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High street sales 'on fire' in spring heatwave

Multiple retailers welcomed a much-needed boost to sales and footfall last week, thanks to a heatwave following a prolonged spell of unseasonably cold weather.

Many high street chains reported double-digit sales uplifts compared with the same week last year, as the warm weather buoyed consumer spending.

The chief executive of one womenswear retailer told Drapers: “We’ve been on fire with this heat, up about 18% year on year. Summer pieces, dresses, woven tops have all sold well. Consumers have got into the mindset of summer. We’re seeing it continuing into this week, too.”

The Met Office recorded the hottest April day in almost 70 years on Thursday 19, when temperatures peaked at 27.9°C, compared with an average of 11.4°C for this time of year.

The boss of another womenswear multiple said: “The weather has made quite a big difference. The last few weeks we’ve seen a double-digit uplift in sales, and it has kickstarted things. We’ve seen this both online and in store. We saw a significant increase in footfall, but also conversion.”

Tom Joule, founder and chief brand officer at Joules, reported a big shift in trade at the lifestyle brand: “We’ve seen a massive pendulum swing, from wellies the week before to flipflops last week. Shorts, T-shirts, vests and short-sleeved dresses all took off.”

The boss of one footwear retailer said: “We saw a noticeable upturn last week, with strong year-on-year growth across all categories. Footfall picked up and moved into positive territory, from what had been a negative situation.”

However, despite the air of confidence, several retailers warned the sunny spell would not make up for plummeting sales in February and March, when extreme weather battered the UK.

“One week doesn’t make the season, or the year,” said one retail boss. “Lots of us lost the early spring and we won’t get this back. But we need to make sure everyone holds their nerve and doesn’t discount too early.”

The director of one high street multiple agreed: “The previous six weeks have been pretty tough. Last week was much needed to claw back sales on seasonal products. We saw some really good sales on T-shirts, shorts and holiday products. But the customer mindset now is very much ‘buy now, wear now’. It’s too early to say if it’s a trend.”

The chairman of one lifestyle retailer added: “If the product is strong, the weather gives people a reason to buy. But will it stick? Consumers are generally more demanding and more cautious. The weather certainly helps, but the general underlying confidence isn’t there. As a retailer, you need to make sure you’re absolutely ready with the execution, too. There is a lot less opportunity to make a mistake.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • It seems many blame the weather - why not have the right stock in when the weather is not so good? It's not rocket science.

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