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Sun heats up sales on the high street

Retail bosses hailed last week’s sunny weather as a “turning point” for spring trade, prompting shoppers to snap up new product.

The clear skies and higher temperatures helped drive customers onto the high street and into retail parks, with footfall in those locations up 8.2% and 3.3% respectively year on year in the week to March 16, according to figures provided exclusively to Drapers by retail intelligence company Springboard.

Retailers such as Karen Millen reported a huge spike in sales thanks to the improved weather.

Chief executive Mike Shearwood said: “Last week was really good for us, with like-for-like sales doubled on last year. Footfall was also up; we’re happy with how things are going.” Dresses were selling particularly well,” he noted.

Value retailer Select reported a 70% hike in like-for-like sales last week, thanks to a combination of warmer weather and strong product, managing director Cafer Mahiroglu told Drapers.

“The sun definitely helped give us a big lift in sales last week. When the sun’s out, people want to go out and spend money. The weather, our good-quality products and price points all helped.” Mahiroglu cited Select’s £6.99 camisole as its bestseller.

One chief operating officer of a womenswear retailer said the warm weather boosted customers’ mood.

“January was hit by the weather, particularly in high street locations, although this was less so at shopping centres,” he said. “That is now turning, and with the spring product over the past two or three weeks, it has undeniably changed. Deep down there is more positive sentiment out there, especially with the sunshine.”

Paul Monks, director of premium retailer Purple menswear in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, was also buoyant after like-for-like sales jumped 92.5% last week. “We’re in a market town so we find that when the sun is out, people want to walk around and go in the shops. People seem a bit more confident and are loosening their purse strings.”

Steve Cochrane, owner of Middlesbrough independent department store Psyche, also said customer spending was higher than at this time last year.

“In the Northeast it’s been quite summery. We normally end our Sale in March but ended it in the middle of February instead. The fact the weather’s been better has definitely helped.”

Cochrane said Polo Ralph Lauren, Pretty Green, True Religion, Fred Perry, and Eton shirts had sold well.

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