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Footwear and clothing brightest spots in cool July

Footwear was the strongest performing fashion retail sector in July, although clothing also showed growth.

Throughout the month, sales rose 0.1% on a like-for-like basis across the whole retail sector, with total sales up 2% compared to July 2011, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

In the three months from May to July like-for-like non-food sales rose by 1%, outstripping the 0.9% growth seen for food.

Clothing

Warm weather towards the end of the month helped the sale of summer and beachwear products as clothing sales were up on the previous year. However the sales monitor noted that much of this was driven by extended clearance periods at the expense of margins.

Kidswear continued to show robust growth, aided by the back to school season, and menswear reported modest signs of growth. Womenswear was the poorest performing category within clothing.

Shoppers were still cautious about buying due to economic uncertainty, but accessories held up well for some and in the cooler wet weather new autumn products attracted some interest.

Footwear

Men’s, women’s and kids footwear all showed strong growth in July, with footwear the strongest performing category. Women’s boots sold well at the beginning on the month helped by wet weather, however towards the end of the month warmer weather helped sell sandals and summer footwear.

Tight budgets continued to favour value lines and plain styles which could be worn for work as well as leisure.

Department Stores

Weather also played a part in benefitting department store sales, especially in stores where clearance sales were still running. Warmer weather later on in the month meant sales fell back.

Sales in clothing and footwear were aided by mark-downs and interest in new autumn ranges.

Online including mail order and phone

Sales of non-food items showed the strongest growth this year, up 15.6% compared to growth of 9.6% last year. A combination of the miserable weather and new season collections led to more people shopping from home.

The BRC said there was evidence of click and collect services growing in popularity as shoppers became more confident about using it.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: “The brightest spot was clothing and footwear thanks to cooler weather coinciding with autumn ranges reaching the shops.

“Consumers responded enthusiastically to the chance to refresh their wardrobes with items they could make use of straightaway. Some retailers also benefitted from the longer Sunday opening hours brought in for the Olympic period.

“With only the opening couple of days of the Olympic Games covered by these statistics we’ll have to wait a while to assess the overall impact on retail sales. Let’s hope Team GB keeps on increasing its medal tally, bringing a feelgood factor that helps consumer confidence.”

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