Clothing sales slowed in July, despite a strong response by customers to new autumn ranges.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, UK retail sales values across all retail sectors rose 1.8% on a like-for-like basis and 3.6% on a total basis during the month, compared to last year.
July showed an improvement on June – when like-for-likes were up 1.4 per cent - but the growth was versus a weak July 2008.
Sales in department stores were mixed during last month, but the category benefitted from the wetter weather in the latter part of the month.
Clothing sales fell back to just below the July 2008 level last month. During the good weather in the early part of the month, summer ranges sold well during the Sales. However, stronger discounting was needed towards the end of the month.
The cooler, wetter second half of the month meant that new autumn ranges had a good start, with rainwear, jeans, leggings, tights and light knitwear proving popular. Casual ranges outperformed formal ranges and childrenswear outperformed adult ranges.
Footwear sales were strong during the month. Sandals and casual footwear sold well on sunny days, especially when Sales were extended or increased. Footwear retailers implemented deeper discounting than last year and shoes drove sales in the wetter second half of July. Children’s footwear showed the strongest gains helped by back-to-school.
Non-food, non-store sales, which include the internet, mail-order and phone sales, in July were 20% higher than a year ago, bolstered by clearance Sales.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “July showed us both sides of the British summer and gave some parts of retailing a much-needed boost. Seasonal clothing clearances did well early in the month.”
KPMG head of retail, Helen Dickinson said: “The mixed weather hit women’s and men’s clothing but not footwear or children’s clothing which all had another good month.”
Robertson and Dickinson highlighted the continuing precarious nature of consumer demand and Robertson said that people are using their summer holidays to improve their homes rather than go away.