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Welcome relief for retailers as heatwave warms up sales

The recent hot weather has boosted sales on the high street, providing a welcome relief from the tough trade and low consumer confidence.

Sunny skies and warmer temperatures drove a 3.2% increase in footfall across the UK for the week to 18 June, research firm Springboard has reported. There was a particularly strong rise for high streets, where footfall was up 5.5% compared with the same week in 2016.

Monday 19 June was the hottest day of the year so far as the temperature reached 32.5°C at Hampton Water Works in west London. Further north it was still balmy – temperatures reached 26°C in Newcastle.

Erica Vilkauls, chief executive of East, said: “We are very busy. Last week like-for-like sales were up 42% on the prior year and June so far is up 32%. The weather had a big role to play, but we’re trying very hard to get the right products in at the right time. Maxi dresses are doing really well for us at the moment. Our margin is two percentage points higher than 2016, and we’re staying full-price until 5 July.”

Olly Tress, founder and managing director of Oliver Bonas, said the summer weather had lifted shoppers’ moods: “People have gotten into the mindset that it’s hot and it’s going to stay hot, so they are willing to spend on dresses, skirts and sunglasses. It has been a great couple of weeks for us. Sometimes the hot weather stops people from shopping, but we haven’t seen that.”

However, he added a note of caution: “We always hope for a few very hot days, but you can’t get too excited about like-for-likes as June was a write-off last year, so we’re up against soft comparisons.”

Ben Barnett, chief executive of TFG London, which owns Whistles, Phase Eight and Damsel in a Dress, agreed that the warmer weather has improved sell-through of summer stock: “The shining light on our side has been the performance of Whistles, where the customer reaction to the new autumn 17 ranges has been fantastic, and the sell-through of the spring collections has been ahead of the prior year.”

However he warned that the overall market is still tough: “From what I have seen, the footfall and sales data sadly continues to be challenging for the market generally.”

Daniel Rubin, executive chairman of The Dune Group, said business had picked up. “Trade has been strong, especially on sandals, as you’d expect. Indeed the whole season has been good for us. However, things trailed off over the weekend as people – especially men – went to the park rather than the shops.”

Independent analyst Richard Hyman echoed this: “It was very quiet on Oxford Street last Saturday. I don’t think the extreme weather would have done anyone any favours. When it’s that hot people are out doing other things, not shopping. That being said, most majority of high street [retailers] have kicked off their summer Sales, so the warm weather should help to clear stock.”

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