September’s colder weather and a post-Olympics sales rush helped boost clothing and footwear last month, according to the latest BRC/KPMG sales monitor.
Although clothing sales were slow at the start of the month – due to what the BRC described as “glorious sunshine” – the second, colder, half saw strong year-on-year growth. Full priced seasonal items such as knitwear and coats were the main driver of growth.
Kidswear benefited in particular, becoming the best performing category thanks also to delayed back-to-school shopping sprees as a result of the summer events.
Meanwhile menswear outperformed women’s – although the monitor said even this division “ended the month on a strong note”.
But footwear continues to be the top performing category within retail, a position it has maintained for five months in a row.
It also benefitted from the weather and a delayed back-to-school period, with the same divisional trends emerging across children’s, men’s and women’s.
“After a poor summer for sales, this is a return to growth rates we’ve come to regard as relatively acceptable in these relentlessly tough times,” said BRC director general Stephen Robertson.
“This September’s colder conditions contrast sharply with the heatwave a year ago, giving clothing and footwear sales a major boost as shoppers stock up early on coats, boots and knitwear. Children’s clothes and shoes did particularly well in September, partly because many people left back-to-school buying later this year as a result of competition for their time in August.”
However he warned that ongoing issues in the UK housing market remained, although the downward pressure on disposable income “has eased for some”.
“Along with lots of discounts, left them feeling it’s time to stop postponing spending,” he said. “Retailers will be hoping this modest boost strengthens as Christmas approaches.”
KPMG’s head of retail David McCorquodale, , added: ““With the rent paid for the last quarter before Christmas and most seasonal orders now made, the bets for the final quarter have been placed. Retailers will now be hoping that the consumer finds some confidence for 2013 to drive sales for the next three months. If that doesn’t happen there’s a real risk that the retailers will be forced to discount their seasonal margins away.”