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Sun fails to dispel the clouds of gloom

I hope that wasn’t it. Summer, that is. After a lovely warm bank holiday weekend, which went some way to making up for the snow-capped Easter, followed by a week of sunshine, the weather has become cooler again and I for one am feeling nervous.

It may seem neurotic to be watching the thermometer and the level of cloud coverage by the hour, but there seems to be a widely held view that the only thing that can save us from a disastrous summer is the weather.

One high-level retailer I spoke to recently dismissed claims that the product on the high street was a bit uninspiring at present by saying it wouldn’t matter what was in the stores as people simply aren’t spending; no new sleeve shape or shift in hemline was going to make much difference, he said, and hoisting up Sale signs wasn’t helping either.

The latest monthly sales monitor from the British Retail Consortium backs this up. Overall like-for-like retail sales in April were down 1.5% on last year and fashion sales fell against March despite heavy discounting and Sales. This was the seventh consecutive monthly decline.

Predictably, given the wet and wintry spring, footwear was hit particularly badly and sales fell to their lowest level for years. Premium product, however, in both footwear and clothing was holding up. At least those that have plenty of cash are still spending.

But back in the real world, a spell of sustained sunshine seems to be the only thing that would encourage shoppers to climb out of their armchairs and onto the high street. But not too much sun, of course. We don’t want them going to the beach instead.

Lauretta Roberts, editor

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