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Bank holiday washout boosts ecommerce sales

Wet weather over the May bank holiday weekend dampened sales on the high street but gave a welcome boost to online trading for etailers and multiples across the UK.

Overall footfall was down 1.3% for the week beginning April 26 and ending Sunday May 2. High streets were the worst affected by the bad weather with a 4.1% drop year on year. Shopping centre footfall dipped 0.4%, while retail parks were up 4.2%.

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at research firm Springboard, said: “The final week of April finished with a disappointing decline in footfall as showers and cold weather affected footfall across the country. The bank holiday was a washout for the high street.”

A managing director of a large footwear multiple described trading in stores over the bank holiday weekend as “OK” but added: “London is still a challenge and seasonable stock could have done better.”

Anthony Thompson, chief executive of Fat Face, said: “It wasn’t a washout but it was a little colder than this time last year. We did higher sales in outerwear and light knits compared to shorts and jersey T-shirts last year. It was a solid bank holiday, it didn’t disappoint but it didn’t blow the lights out either.”

Joules managing director Colin Porter said the lifestyle brand’s online and store sales were up by 35% year-on-year. “Online was slightly better but there wasn’t much in it, which probably reflects our typical store portfolio as we are located in the kinds of places that people go for short breaks so mixed weather can drive people into stores. Irrespective of the weather, short sleeved polos and T-shirts and jersey dresses were strong, but then raincoats did well too.”

On the other hand, ecommerce fared well as people opted to stay in and shop from their sofas instead. Neil Sansom, omnichannel director at menswear retailer Moss Bros, said: “Online sales were significantly up over the weekend, maybe because the weather wasn’t great for bank holiday trips out or time in the garden.”

Haroun Saleemi, head of ecommerce at young fashion womenswear retailer Quiz, said: “Overall, bank holiday weekend ecommerce sales were up by 25% on last year. Friday and Saturday were stronger than Sunday and Monday.”

Kate Smyth, director of ecommerce at footwear retailer Dune, said: “Our online sales have been really strong this year and this bank holiday was no exception, with orders up nearly 50% on the same holiday last year.”

A spokeswoman for one major online retailer added: “Despite the weather, shoppers are gearing up for the summer. Trade was driven by clothing and footwear so we benefitted from the wet weather. Womenswear was the strongest category and we saw a massive jump in holiday clothing, with bikinis and shorts doing particularly well.”

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