Sales of clothing and footwear suffered their steepest decline since September 2014 in March, as deeper discounts failed to offset the impact of the weather and earlier Easter bank holiday.
Clothing was at the bottom of the British Retail Consortium and KPMG retail sales monitor’s growth rankings table, just above footwear. The monitor did not provide specific figures.
Total retail sales were flat year on year and down 0.7% on a like-for-like basis. Online sales rose 9.5%.
The BRC said the unsettled weather hit sales of spring 16 ranges, particularly T-shirts and light jersey. Womenswear suffered the most, it said.
It added that the promotional activity was “particularly intense” and the discounts generally deeper than in the equivalent period last year.
“Another disturbing factor was the fact that the Easter school holidays were more scattered this year than last year. This had a negative impact on the children’s segment but also on the women’s one,” the BRC and KPMG said. Menswear was the only segment to report growth.
High fashion brands continued to prove popular, while sportswear lines also attracted strong demand. With the increase of holiday makers, swimwear also showed some uplift
All footwear segments saw a decrease, and even online sales saw a small decline.
David McCorquodale, head of retail for KPMG, said: “Earlier Easters are not always good for the fashion industry as consumers are put off purchases of lighter fashions and footwear in cooler temperatures and this was certainly the case this year.
“Looking ahead, retailers will be hoping for fewer April showers this month to entice spending on these newly launched ranges and to help alleviate the additional cost burden with the implementation of the national living wage.”