Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

March weather helps sales hot up

Warm weather aided sales of clothing and footwear throughout March with footwear sales growth the strongest in five years.

Like-for-like retail sales rose 1.3% compared to March last year, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. On a total basis sales were up 3.6%. The unusually sunny weather in March helped sales of clothing and footwear.

However, the timing of Easter makes analysis difficult for April and March with Easter falling in April in 2011 but March in 2010, making March last year look exceptionally weak.

Clothing

After two weak months March’s warm weather gave a good boost to sales. Disregarding December’s clearance driven boost, the sales growth seen in March was the best since April 2011. Menswear, womenswear and kidswear all showed year-on-year gains, with menswear and kidswear continuing to outperform womenswear.

Spring 12 stock and transitional ranges sold, well with casual trousers, shorts, tops, skirts and dresses popular. Due to Mothering Sunday handbags and jewellery also saw an uplift.

Footwear

Footwear sales had its strongest year-on-year growth since April 2007. Children’s footwear saw the largest gain, with canvas styles popular, and women’s footwear also outperformed men’s. Sandals and flat casuals in pastels and neutral colours sold well, with heeled sandals also showing some gains and smart shoes, too, holding up well. Plimsolls and other canvas styles proved popular.

Department stores

Most department stores had a slower month as warm weather reduced footfall and consumer caution continued to dampen sales. Clothing and footwear, however, still benefited from the spring weather, with mid-season sales and promotions also helping to attract shoppers.

Internet, phone and mail order

Non-food items saw stronger growth with sales up 13.9% on the same month last year, the best since December 2011. However, these were against a very weak March 2011.

 

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “The unusually warm weather in March brought some welcome sunshine into the lives of non-food retailers. The early signs of summer got people buying clothes and shoes for the new season.”

However, he added: “It’s worth remembering the sales comparison is against the weakest month of last year, largely caused by the movement of Easter in the calendar, and we’ll have to see whether this is additional spending or just shopping which has happened earlier than usual.

“The overall retail environment is still difficult. Discounting remains a key tactic for retailers trying to encourage consumers to spend, particularly on big indoor items. People are still struggling to balance household budgets against expensive fuel and utilities. The warmth of March was a help but it will take more than a week of sunshine to transform retailers’ fortunes.”

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.