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Lift in retail sales for July

Like-for-like sales of clothing and shoes rose in July after two months of decline.

The growth was driven by seasonal sales and earlier-than-ever interest in autumn stock due to the cooler weather.

Womenswear led the upturn, while growth of menswear and childrenswear slowed compared to June, according to British Retail Consortium and KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for July 2011.

Despite consumers showing more caution before buying the study found that dresses, blouses, tops and lightweight knits performed well in womenswear and casual and formal styles made gains in menswear.

Aggressive markdowns and extended sales drove growth in footwear. Research found that modest price cuts failed to entice shoppers to part with their cash, in particular on hot weather styles, such as sandals. Retailers who put autumn 11 stock on the shop floor noted good early interest in new styles.

Overall, UK retail sales rose 0.6% compared to July 2010, when sales grew 0.5%

Head of retail at KPMG Helen Dickinson said retailers selling big ticket items are finding market conditions challenging as customers show reluctance to make major spending commitments.

Dickinson said: “With pay rises hard to come by, consumers continue to feel the squeeze of higher prices and an uncertain outlook. Retailers are hunkering down and managing stock tightly and none is particularly optimistic about the outlook, although many expect inflationary pressures to decrease in the latter part of the year.”

Sales growth slowed in July in the non-food, non-store category (internet, mail order and phone). July’s year-on-year change in the sector showed a 9.6% rise, compared with 11.3% growth in July 2010.

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