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Retailers report strong July despite poor BRC figures

Retailers have hit out at the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG’s July Retail Sales Monitor after its downbeat report on fashion sales for the month contradicted their own experiences of trade.

The BRC does not split out figures for clothing and footwear sales, but claimed footwear experienced its worst month’s sales since August 2009 and that a slight rise in clothing sales was driven by clearance Sales and promotions, often at the expense of margin.

Like-for-like sales of non-food categories for the three months to the end of July were up just 0.3%, it added.

The report also contrasted with figures from accountancy firm BDO, which claimed like-for-like footwear sales were up an average of 2% in July, while clothing sales were up 5.6% on average.

BDO compiles its statistics from mid-sized market retailers with a turnover of between £5m and £500m, sparking suggestions that figures from some of the larger retailers could be dragging down the BRC’s statistics.

BRC spokesman Krishan Rama said: “We reflect retail as a whole. It’s not just one or two retailers which contribute, so we are confident that what we are reporting [is accurate].”

However, retailers from all sectors told Drapers that July had been a strong month for them.

Nicky Dulieu, chief executive of womenswear chain Hobbs, said: “I saw the BRC figures and they don’t tally with our experience at all.

“We experienced an exceptionally strong July, with high double-digit growth.”

Footwear retailers strongly denied that July had been a particularly weak month. Etailer Cloggs said trade for the month had been 48% up on July last year, while Jones Bootmaker reported a 5% increase in like-for-likes for the month.

Sales mixed at indies

The British Shops and Stores Association’s quarterly sales survey showed sales at clothing and footwear indies fell an average of 1.1% in the three months to June 30, with indie department store sales down 1%.

However, the figures were much stronger for the first six months of the year, with clothing and footwear indies up 3.4% and indie department stores up 3%.

Most indies told Drapers that sales had picked up since June.

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