LONDON, Aug 9 (Reuters) - A heat-wave prompted British
shoppers to spend more on summer clothes, food for picnics and
air conditioning units in July but they also cut back on foreign
travel and dining out as the cost-of-living squeeze tightened,
surveys showed on Tuesday.
The British Retail Consortium said the value of total sales
at its members - mostly large chains and major supermarkets -
was 2.3% higher than in July 2021, a contrast with falls in each
of the previous three months.
Like-for-like sales, which adjusts for changes in floor
space and shops closed due to lockdown restrictions, rose 1.6%
after falling for four months.
However, the figures are not adjusted for inflation and the
BRC said they represented a fall in volume terms.
"Consumer confidence remains weak, and the rise in interest
rates coupled with talk of recession will do little to improve
the situation," BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
The two remaining contenders to become Britain's next prime
minister - foreign minister Liz Truss and ex-finance minister
Rishi Sunak - are both promising to help households either via
tax cuts or direct support to help meeting surging power bills.
Last week the Bank of England said Britain's economy was on
course to fall into recession at the end of this year and only
emerge from it in early 2024.
Figures from payments processor Barclaycard also
contrasted with the prevailing gloom over the economy.
Consumer spending in July was 7.7% higher than a year
earlier, pushed up by sales of clothing, beauty products and
staycations as well as a 44% leap in utilities and a 30% leap on
Consumers were starting to cut back on overseas travel and
eating and drinking out to compensate for inflation's hit.
But Barclaycard said a survey it conducted showed consumers
were feeling a bit more confident about their household finances
- 66% vs 59% in June - albeit at levels lower than a year ago.
"This shows that, faced with difficult circumstances, many
are finding ways to budget and manage their finances
successfully, to cope with ongoing inflationary pressures," Jose
Carvalho, Head of Consumer Products at Barclaycard, said.
(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce)