Fashion sales in September recorded their lowest performance in more than two years, as warm weather stifled demand for new season stock.
Overall like-for-like retail sales were down by 2.1% in September compared with the same period last year, with clothing and footwear the worst performing categories, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
“After a bumper summer, this is a disappointing outcome for retailers and has undoubtedly reversed some of the sales gains made in August,” said Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC. “However, if temperatures drop to a more seasonal level this cooler weather will quickly turnaround retailers’ fortunes and help them to sell their autumn winter ranges.”
Dickinson noted there was “exceptionally low demand” for heavier and higher ticket items such as boots and coats, after September turned out to be the driest and one of the warmest on record.
Overall the non-food category – which includes clothing and footwear – reported growth of 3% compared with the same period last year, below the 12 month average of 3.6%.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “The prolonged Indian summer wilted retail sales in September, leaving clothing retailers hot under the collar. Selling woolly jumpers in warm weather is a tough ask, even for the most talented of sales staff.”
He added: “One warm September doesn’t ruin a Christmas and retailers on the whole are on a firm footing as they enter the all-important final quarter. The winners will be those who have invested in their systems and carefully managed their stock levels to give themselves the best shot at a successful Christmas.”