Fashion sales bounced back in April despite a 2.2% decline in like-for-like retail sales values compared to the last year, according to the latest Retail Sales Monitor from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG.
Rising temperatures and sunshine finally kick-started sales of spring stock with womenswear and kids clothing doing particularly well, led by demand for blouses, jerseys, shorts and skirts.
Mid-month sales and extra promotions helped clothing to become the second best performing sector over April, moving up from seventh last month.
Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, said: “Fashion sales were weak early in the month but that was almost entirely made up later when signs of spring arrived.”
Sales of summer footwear - flat shoes, sandals and mules – also picked up towards the end of the month, although demand for winter products, particularly women’s slippers, was still evident as April dawned.
Department stores remained a popular destination with international demand, notably from China, continuing to drive growth.
On a total basis, sales were down 0.6% against a 1% decline in April 2012 due to Easter falling in March this year but in April last year. The three month growth average, which irons out the distortion created by Easter, is up 2.6%. Overall like-for-like non-food sales rose by 1.1%,
Dickinson added: “On the surface these are really poor figures but they’re hiding another respectable month. The fact that the boost from Easter didn’t fall in April this year hit food sales in particular. But, taking away the Easter distortion, this was actually a better month than March, especially for non-food sales.
“There’s a sense that people are more prepared to spend than they were but chief executives are telling me that’s volatile. A convincing trend towards revival is hard to spot and competitive pricing is still critical to generating sales, despite the effect on margins and on retailers’ ability to invest in offering customers new ways to shop.”