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Sunshine warms up retail sales

Retailers across the UK rejoiced at the warmer weather last week, which provided a welcome relief to stagnant sales on the high street.

sunny weather boosts footfall


Last Sunday, May 8, was the hottest day of the year so far in the UK: temperatures reached 27°C in central London and highs of 24°C were recorded in parts of Scotland. The soaring temperatures led to an 8.1% year-on-year increase in high street footfall for the week to Sunday May 8, Springboard reported.

Daniel Rubin, executive chairman of Dune, said the rising temperatures “kickstarted sales”.

“The better weather has certainly helped sales of seasonal products with big lifts in sandal sales. Long may it continue,” he told Drapers.

Fat Face chief executive Anthony Thompson said last week was one of the best of the year so far, and sunglasses and shorts had sold well.

“Men responded quicker than women. Four of our top 10 styles on menswear were shorts last week, compared with one out of 10 for women. The sun got people out and about. It’s great to see the weather behaving itself.”

The chief executive of one womenswear multiple agreed the warm weather last week sparked a spike in sales as consumers overhauled their summer wardrobes with seasonal product. Dresses and skirts sold particularly well.

At John Lewis fashion sales jumped 13.4% for the week to May 7 with warm weather products including sunglasses and sandals selling “particularly well”.

The uplift comes after high street sales suffered their steepest decline in April since the credit crunch. Like-for-like fashion sales fell by 9.2% year on year last month, the biggest drop since November 2008, accountancy firm BDO reported last week.

The British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for April also identified a “record decline” in fashion sales last month, although it did not give figures.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said clothing and footwear retailers suffered more than most at the hands of poor weather earlier this spring.

“Overall, retail sales slowed during April and temperatures were well below the average for the time of year. Looking at the three months to April, non-food like-for-like growth was particularly weak, especially for fashion and footwear, as the cooler weather dampened the launch of spring ranges.

“With warm spring-like conditions now prevailing, fashion retailers will be hoping this motivates the summer wardrobe refresh.”

The head of buying for one footwear multiple said sales were “strong” last week, and like-for-like sales were up 10% on the same week last year, but there was more to do to recover poor sales in April.

“Last week was all about sandals and canvas stock. High volumes but low average selling prices. Temperatures in April last year were significantly higher than the average. This year it was the opposite. May needs to be strong on seasonal stock to catch up the declines suffered in April.

“However, providing retailers don’t panic there is a good chance summer sales will be OK.”

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