Wintery weather aided sales of clothing and footwear sales in November, as momentum continues to build throughout the season.
Clothing and footwear retained their positions as top and third-best performing category within retail, although growth was muted across the board.
The sector as a whole saw a marginal increase in sales during November, up 0.4% on a like-for-like basis and 1.8% total.
Although the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor does not split out sales of clothing, KPMG’s head of retail David McCorquodale noted that clothing and children’s footwear had experienced double-digit growth in the first week of November.
“This perhaps reflects the strain on family finances as necessities are only bought in the immediate aftermath of the monthly payday,” he said.
According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, in the three months from September to November like-for-like non-food sales rose by 0.7 %.
McCorquodale added: “November was a cautious month of wait and see. The like-for-like indicators in food and non-food are positive but only just, against a weak set of comparatives last year.
“It appears that consumers know they have to spend before Christmas but are holding off for as long as they can to see if there might be bargains available in the next few weeks.”
However the colder weather has aided sales of “wintery” ranges as consumers began Christmas shopping. Nightwear has becoming increasingly important with “onesies” now so popular that some retailers have opened “onesie shop” areas.
Footfall was helped by a few flash Sales but customers generally limited their buying to essentials and shoppers remained cautious.
Kidswear outperformed menswear, with womenswear coming third. In women’s, knitwear and outerwear performed best while denim and dresses did less well. Seasonal accessories such as scarves and tights grew more than handbags.
November saw continued strong momentum behind footwear with kid’s footwear lines showing the most growth, although they were favourably distorted by the timing of the half-term falling in November against October last year.
Colder weather helped the sales of boots and men’s lines outperformed the women’s.
There was relatively low footfall throughout November, which department stores converted into sales with mixed success. The first half of the month benefitted from mid-season Sales, half-term and middle-eastern holidays, making it stronger than the second half.
Online sales remained subdued, rising 7.5% compared to November 2011. Despite online buying from smartphones and tablets growing strongly, November online sales overall failed to regain momentum after a drop in August.
During the month some retailers used vouchers sent to their e-marketing lists of customers with great effectiveness to generate online traffic and sales.
There was a pick-up in the last week of the period due to Black Friday, the US practice of offering big discounts online for Thanksgiving, spreading to Europe and catching on with UK customers.
However, more traffic is likely to take place this week – starting with yesterday’s Cyber Monday.