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Fashion and footwear top retail performers in March

Fashion and footwear were the top performing retail categories in March, according to data published by the British Retail Consortium/KPMG today.

All fashion categories were described as “the outstanding winners in March”, although womenswear paved the way as the mild weather coincided with the launch of spring 14 collections. Mother’s Day also helped drive consumers to the shops.

There was strong demand for new ranges that sold at full price, helping retailers to restore margins, the BRC noted: “This bodes well, as Easter is still to come in April.”

Dresses, blouses, slippers and men’s shorts were cited as particularly strong, while men’s sport items were less strong. Women’s accessories, handbags and sunglasses also performed well, as did children’s clothing despite the late-falling Easter.

Last year, snow and generally bad weather led to March being the worst month for fashion throughout 2013.

Footwear was the best performing category in March, albeit against a weak comparative period last year. Women’s footwear experienced the strongest growth, closely followed by children’s.

Despite both fashion and footwear showing strong performances, the retail sector as a whole registered a total sales decline of 0.3%.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Fashion has performed particularly well. Retailers have worked hard to create popular new collections and have been rewarded with strong demand for women’s clothing and footwear in particular. This improves on the slow start to the season last year when shoppers were more reluctant to spruce up their wardrobes.”

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, added: “Looking ahead, the Easter effect and the school holidays should deliver a healthy boost to sales in April. If the weather is fine, shoppers will head to the high street to enjoy the bank holiday break, helping sales of spring ranges, home accessories and children’s clothing.”

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