We’re spending more in the sunshine – heatwave boosts trade in Sunderland

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RETAIL bosses are celebrating a summer sales boost in Sunderland.

Last month’s heatwave has seen the fastest growth in customer spending in the UK since 2006, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures.

It was the third consecutive month of improvement after April’s brisk weather sent figures plummeting.

The rise in sales by 2.2 per cent compared to last year has been credited to the “feel good factor” the sunshine has brought, teamed with a number of sporting achievements and birth of the royal baby.

And bosses at the Bridges shopping centre said they felt the benefit.

Andy Bradley, shopping centre director, said: “At the Bridges we continue to see excellent results from our retailers throughout the summer months.

“The recent warm weather spell has created a fantastic feel good factor for the Sunderland shopper and has spurred many people into purchasing summer fashion buys and really making the most out of the sales discounts.”

Food and drink saw the highest growth performance since November 2009 with burgers, beers and ice cream all increasing significantly in sales figures. Customers have also been taking advantage of the sun to make home improvements with strong increases in outdoor product sales such as gardening and DIY tools.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “While we know that the picture is still variable and the high street in particular continues to face considerable challenges, these positive results will be welcomed in town centres around the country that depend so much on retailers performing well,”

However, the overall rise contrasted to a separate survey from accountants BDO which suggested sales were flat during July, though BRC believes this is due to the figures excluding grocery retailers.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, which compiled the figures, said: “July was a golden month for retail sales and marks a return to form for British retailers.”

“Hopefully this uptake in sales is another indication that the UK economy has turned the corner towards growth.”

l The Bridges shopping centre is celebrating after being recognised as a Cornerstone of the Community as part of the Newcastle Building Society’s annual awards.

The team from the Land Securities owned shopping centre received the Sunderland Branch Award, which recognises a company’s positive influence and effect it has had on the local community.

In the past year, the centre has raised more than £9,000 for its national charity partner, The MS Society, through a variety of events.

As part of the award win, the Bridges team received a cheque for £225 which was promptly donated into the centre’s MS Society fund pot.