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Online sales boost fashion revenues in May

Online sales boosted revenues for clothing and footwear retailers in May as the sun tempted shoppers to spice up their summer wardrobes without hitting the physical stores.

The latest Retail Sales Monitor from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG saw online sales across non-food retailers rise 11%.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, explained that online sales were “key” to boosting sales of clothing and footwear.

When stripping out online data, neither category would have seen much growth, she said.

Clothing delivered a good performance despite tough comparatives with last year, however.

The sun at the beginning of the month gave a boost to swimwear as shoppers decided to add to their summer wardrobes. They also took advantage of the Sales, buying cheap knitwear to wear immediately.

Kidswear was the best performer with basic essentials proving popular. Casual summer jerseys sold well at womenswear retailers.

Across footwear stores, retailers reported less discounting last month than in May 2012.

Women’s footwear was the best performing, with sandals and ballerinas the standout performers. The children’s segment was also very strong overall.

The wider retail market in the UK had a prosperous May with like-for-like retail sales up 1.8% compared with last year, while on a total basis sales rose 3.4%.

Over a three month period, from March to May, like-for-like non-food sales increased 0.7%.

Dickinson said: “Retailers pulled off a good result in May despite contending with topsy-turvy temperatures and continued economic difficulties. The first month since February to be free of Easter-timing distortions showed positive total growth in every category and overall growth well above the 12-month average.”

She added: “May was a month of two halves for weather, meaning that retailers had to stay one step ahead when planning their promotional activity.

“The signs are that temporary discounts and offers worked well to tempt shoppers into stores and clear some of the stock that had been slow to sell during the preceding months.

“Seasonal fashions returned to form when sunshine set in early in May, but growth slumped with temperatures in the second half of the month.”

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