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Retail sales slow in February

Retail sales inched 0.1% higher in February on a like-for-like bases from the previous year, with sales of new season fashion ranges proving sluggish amid changeable weather.

Discounting on the high street credit Alan Cleaver

Discounting on the high street: credit Alan Cleaver

Sales growth in clothing was generally promotion-driven in the autumn 15 ranges and all of the growth came from online sales, according to the British Retail Consortium and KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

It also noted good demand around branded clothing, nightwear around Valentine’s Day, and jeans and sportswear. The best performing segment was kidswear, although not all retailers were pleased with schoolwear performance over half term, it said.

Footwear sales also struggled, with sales centring around winter ranges and clearance, such as covered shoes and ankle boots.

“With the implementation of the National Living Wage only weeks away, all the focus is on promotional activity to drive sales and on productivity to protect margins,” said David McQuorquodale, UK head of retail at KPMG. “With fashion design choices made and an early Easter this year, clothing retailers will be hoping for March sunshine to launch the new season wares.”

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