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Struggling stores pin hopes on hot summer

High street retailers are hoping that a hot summer will revive flagging sales, but have given up all hope of matching last year’s figures.

Snow last weekend came up against last year’s heatwave figures to create some of the worst trading figures for several years, according to some chains. This was on top of March’s washout Easter, which was the earliest it had fallen for 90 years.

However, hopes have been boosted by last week’s summer forecast from the Met Office, which predicted a warmer-than-average summer with more rain than average, although a repeat of last year’s floods is unlikely.

One supermarket source said: “Trading is difficult, but we had a good week last week. We’ve bought quite tightly and provided the weather holds up, we’ll make up for what we lost in May and June, which will hide the economic slowdown. We won’t exceed expectations, but we’ll achieve our targets.”

The chief executive of one womenswear chain added: “Trade could be better but it’s not a disaster, although there is still no pattern in terms of store type or location. The summer drops will be in at the end of the month so hopefully it will get warmer. We won’t break any records this year, but that isn’t the end of the world.”

But the head of one footwear chain said it had suffered its worst ever trading in the past month. He said: “Last week we had our worst week in trading history and the three weeks before that weren’t much better. If the weather kicks in, that will 100% restore the season.”

However, the boss of one value chain said his company was unlikely to recover losses from the start of the year. “I’m optimistic about May, but I think the entire industry will be down at the end of the year,” he said. “Swimwear is doing well as people are going on holiday, but volume items such as T-shirts are slow. Hopefully people will get fed up of not spending money and start buying.”

The boss of another value chain said: “The first four months of the year have been awful. This time last year we were up 42% like for like.”

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