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Clothing sales dampened by snowy weather

Clothing sales delivered their worst performance for 14 months in January, with the exception of Easter, as snowy conditions hampered footfall on the high street.

Figures published this morning by BRC/KPMG showed takings at non-food retailers edged up by just 0.7% on a like-for-like basis in the three months to the end of January.

Fashion sales suffered from the snow as footfall decreased during January despite a good start to the month.

Although online sales grew by 10.1% during the month they could not offset the drop in footfall on the high street and total sales across both womenswear and kidswear fell.

The chilly weather did however help drive sales of knitwear and accessories including tights, hats, scarves and men’s gloves. Technical outerwear, including items such as strong raincoats were also popular. Surprisingly mini dresses also sold well but new spring 13 ranges struggled in the cold weather.

Footwear sales continued to be the best performing category and following the snowstorm, there was a surge in sales of boots in general, including wellington boots.

Across the total sector UK like-for-like retail sales were up 1.9% compared to January 2012, while total sales rose 3%. The like-for-like sales rise was the biggest increase seen for 13 months.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Sales suffered during the recent cold snap, but it was thankfully short-lived and didn’t cancel out the positive showing across the month as a whole. Its force was felt in some areas more than others – footwear performed well thanks to a ‘boots boost’ but it wasn’t such a good month for clothing.”

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