Clothing and footwear sales were helped in October by chilly weather, which encouraged shoppers to spend, despite retail sales delivering the worst growth since November 2011.
UK retail figures were down 0.1% on a like-for-like basis in October although they were up 1.1% on a total basis according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
In the three months from August to October like-for-like non-food sales rose by 0.2%.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “Like a rocket, clothing and footwear sales soared into double-digit like-for-like growth in the first week but then faded in the latter half of the month, showing that consumers may have bought into autumn/winter collections but are still too nervous to fill their wardrobes with them.”
Clothing was the third best retail performing category as cooler autumnal weather helped sales. Despite comparisons with a relatively strong period last year menswear was the star performer with demand for casualwear, jumpers, coats, trousers and jerseywear.
However womenswear sales differed across the board, with retailers who had trimmed their range doing less well. Winter warmers and casual garments sold well with some demand for occasionwear. Kidswear collections fared well with outerwear and jeans strong selling categories.
Boots were in demand as footwear continued to sell well helped by cold weather. The start of the month was strong while the second half of the period was up against strong comparisons due to the timing of half term last year. Adults ranges delivered a better performance than kid’s ranges.
Although footfall was generally lower in October than last year sales were up year-on-year as retailers managed to convert visitors into buyers. Customers bought from both discounted lines and full price lines with promotions reported to be lower than last year.
October was a disappointing month for online sales which was attributed to disposable incomes being squeezed, people holding off on major purchases and the inevitable slowing in growth as online retailing matures. Click and collect services continued to grow well however.
Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: “Unfortunately it looks like the modest sales revival we saw in September was something of a false dawn. Excluding April, hit by this year’s earlier Easter, October saw the worst sales growth since last November. And October’s poor performance wasn’t a one off. Year-to-date average growth hasn’t outpaced inflation meaning overall sales volumes going backwards. Within that, October’s online, non-food, results were especially poor. The last three months now include the two weakest growth rates we’ve recorded in four years.”
He added: “The disappointing figures are a reminder of the difficult economic realities many are still facing. Falling consumer confidence means people are limiting spending to essential items and are cautious about committing to big-ticket and discretionary buying.
“Half-term fell later this year, so lower footfall translated into patchy performances across the categories.
“This underwhelming showing means there’s all to play for as Christmas approaches.”