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Late bank holiday boosts September sales

Like-for-like retail sales were up 2.6% in September compared to the same period last year, as fashion and footwear performed well thanks to a boost from the late bank holiday.

Sunny high street

Total sales were up 3.9% year on year, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor; the fastest growth since January 2014.

Clothing achieved its best result since August 2014, driven by the later timing of the bank holiday in England, Northern Ireland and Wales – on August 31 – which saw back-to-school sales shifting into September this year. Sales of kidswear grew at their fastest rate since August 2014.

Clothing sales also benefited from a soft comparable period, due to last year’s Indian summer. Seasonal weather this September brought strong demand for full priced, new season ranges, while stock left over from summer collections struggled to attract shoppers.

Menswear had its fastest growth since December 2011, outperforming womenswear.

Footwear also benefited from the soft comparable period and uplift from back-to-school shopping, growing at its fastest rate since March 2014.

On a three-month basis, total non-food sales were up 3.7%. Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 14.2% in September compared to the previous year.

The proportion of clothing sales made online increased by 2.2 percentage points to 25.6%.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “September was a bright month for retail, with the strongest sales performance since January of last year, excluding Easter distortions.

“However, sales growth was boosted by the August bank holiday, which fell in this period as opposed to August last year, shifting back-to-school sales into September, so such strong growth is likely to be overstated.  

“September’s figures were also flattered by a soft comparable period last year, which was the worst performance of 2014.”

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, added: “Fashion sales were given a particular boost in September with more autumnal weather encouraging shoppers to check out the new season ranges and last minute back-to-school purchases lifting sales of children’s clothes and shoes.

“Moving into the final quarter of 2015, retailers will be keeping a watchful eye on Christmas with the launch of festive campaigns starting to whet consumers’ appetites and Black Friday expected to be big again.”

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