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Fashion sales worsen in September

Like-for-like retail sales in September fell by 1.5% and clothing sales worsened against August according to the British Retail Consortium.

Total retail sales rose 1% over the month.

The BRC said that despite further discounting and promotional activity, clothing sales worsened in the month with kidswear the only sub-sector showing a small gain largely because of the back to school period. Autumn knitwear, coats and jackets did better on colder and wet days. Increasingly consumer uncertainty hit discretionary purchasing but favoured value ranges and core basics.

Footwear performed similar to in August, when sales were just above their year-earlier level. This was led by kid's footwear and bot men's and women's footwear performed below September 2007. Value ranges were favoured although designer ranges also showed gains for some retailers.

Department stores started the month better because of wet weather but trade worsened overall. Designer fashion held up for some.

Mail order retailers said that winter fashion and footwear picked up on colder and wetter days and there had been some early interest in Christmas catalogues.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "The financial turmoil has further undermined consumer confidence with like-for-like sales now down in six of the last seven months...Impulse buying is disappearing as people consider purchases carefully and actively seek out promotions. If you're after a bargain it's great news as shops have responded with some of the most dramatic discounts and offers in recent times."

He added: "Retailers will be hoping customers are willing and able to spend for Christmas as an antidote to the current gloom."

KPMG head of retail Helen Dickenson said: "Despite the ongoing turmoil in global and the UK financial markets and the doom and gloom headline, UK retail is not in freefall."

She added: "The non-food sectors continue to suffer, with all apart from footwear showing like-for-like falls in the month. The key question now is not what has happened but what will be the impact of the current environment on sales of the crucial Christmas trading period - many will be holding their breath."

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