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Jubilee Fails To Shine For Rained-On Retail

(c) Sky News 2012

The extent of the damage inflicted by the poor summer weather on retailers is becoming clear - with official figures adding to the misery by suggesting the Diamond Jubilee failed to provide some respite.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there was no evidence that the five day holiday had delivered a lift to retail sales in June, as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) had initially claimed.

The BRC had calulated a 1.4% lift in like-for-like sales while the ONS measured growth of just 0.3%.

The wettest June on record since 1910 was behind a 0.7% drop in food sales last month, the ONS said, while clothing retailers saw sales jump 2.5% as they brought forward their summer sales.

Meanwhile, a string of companies reporting trading updates this morning highlighted the impact of the rain on consumer behaviour - already depressed by the tough economy.

In a shock announcement, it was confirmed the CEO of Halfords was to "step down" with immediate effect.

David Wild's departure, which was painted as a mutual decision, followed a disappointing performance in the 13 weeks to June 29 in which like-for-like group revenues plunged 5.6%.

Its (Euronext: ALITS.NX - news) leisure division, which includes bicycle sales, saw revenue tumble 10.5% on a like-for-like basis.

That figure was matched in car enhancement.

Interim executive chairman Dennis Millard, who will run the business while a successor to Mr Wild is found, said: "Halfords is a strong business with a clear strategy and leading positions in a number of large and attractive retail and service markets.

"After careful consideration, it is felt that now is the right time for a change of leadership in the Group to enable it to implement that strategy."

JJB Sports was another big name to report poor summer trading, confirming it was to seek another round of rescue funds after seeing its turnaround hopes derailed by weak sales.

After pub and brewer group Fuller, Smith & Turner reported damage to sales in its pubs with beer gardens earlier this week, Mitchells & Butlers (LSE: MAB.L - news) confirmed a similar gripe.

While like-for-like sales grew 0.4% in the 14 weeks to July 14, it said its more recent trading had been hit by not only the weather but also suffered a "negative impact" from the Euro 2012 football championships.

However M&B said the Diamond Jubilee weekend provided a welcome boost to trade, with like-for-like sales up 4% in that period.

Kingfisher (Euronext: KFR.NX - news) , which operates the B&Q DIY chain reported UK like for like sales in the 23 weeks to July 7 had fallen 5.6%.

Kingfisher's chief executive Ian Cheshire said: "The unprecedented wet weather across northern Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) has continued throughout our second quarter so far, clearly impacting footfall and consumer demand for outdoor and seasonal products."

Ahead of its Annual General Meeting today, Mothercare (LSE: MTC.L - news) confirmed a 6.7% drop in UK like-for-like sales over the 15 weeks to July 14.