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Kidswear rises but trans-season struggles to take off

The back-to-school period helped drive a strong performance for children’s clothing and footwear in August as non-food sales climbed.

According to the latest Retail Sales Monitor from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, non-food sales rose 2.1% on a like-for-like basis in the three months to the end of August. In the four weeks to August 24 overall UK retail sales values were up 1.8% on a like-for-like basis compared to last year.

August was not as strong a month for clothing as July, because of the transition into new season product. Retailers with spring product still on the shop floor saw a strong demand however.

Kidswear was the top performer, aided by a keen interest in back-to-school products, alongside easy comparisons on August last year. Adults T-shirts and cardigans did well, but as autumn ranges suffered from a lack of interest some retailers have already started to mark them down.

Footwear had a strong month, beating clothing in terms of growth with a strong bias on back-to-school items. Men’s footwear also performed strongly, driven by formal footwear.

Online non-food sales grew 15% in August, which was strong compared to a fairly weak July, as many spent less time outdoors than in July and more time browsing and buying end-of-summer offers and new autumn ranges.

During August department stores enjoyed a better time than the previous month. London-based shops reported a rebound from last year, when footfall was hit by the Olympics. Chinese and Middle Eastern shoppers with “high purchasing power” also helped drive the growth of high end sales.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Taken hand-in-hand with a recent uptick in consumer confidence, the signs are that many of us are feeling a little more positive about the economic outlook and responding well to good deals and new autumn collections alike.”

She added: “Non-food had an impressive month, as retailers answered the continuing cautious optimism with good ranges and appealing promotions, especially in their back to school offers and items for the home. The category’s performances both in-store and online measure up well against below par showings in August 2012, when shopping took second place to watching the Olympics for many of us.”

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