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Women's raincoats and jumpers biggest casualties of warmer weather

The warm start to the autumn 14 season led to a 30% drop in sales of women’s raincoats while sales of women’s jumpers left a £60m hole in retailers’ pockets, according to research by Kantar Worldpanel.

The slow start to sales of autumn clothing and footwear has led many high street retailers to launch deep Sales to drive shoppers towards their latest ranges. Kantar Worldpanel found women’s raincoats saw the steepest decline in sales in the 12 weeks to October 26, dropping by 30% compared with the same period last year - equivalent to £8.1m.

There were 70,000 fewer shoppers buying these items and those that did purchased at lower prices, with the average price £28, down 25% on last year. Volumes were also down by 50,000.

The largest monetary decline for the period was felt across women’s jumpers, which saw a sales drop off of £60m, representing a 17% fall, as one million fewer shoppers purchased these items. In total there were 3.1 million fewer women’s jumpers sold.

Women’s boots were also severely hit, down 16.5%, as 600,000 fewer shoppers purchased them and 950,000 fewer pairs were sold, resulting in a £53.2m loss of sales on last year’s figures.

Menswear was also hit with the sale of waterproof jackets and coats down 22.7% on last year, with this decline costing the market £14.7m as 260,000 fewer customers bought these items. In total 290,000 fewer units were sold in the last three months compared to expectations.

Sales of men’s jumpers fell 10% with 833,000 fewer items bought, resulting in a loss of potential sales of £13.7m.

But it was not all bad news, as some product areas saw gains due to the warmer weather. The number of shoppers buying women’s capri trousers rose 50% with 131,000 more people buying into them. Sales of women’s shorts also rose 45.6% representing an increased spend on these items of £7.3m. Women’s blouses saw an additional £36.8m of sales compared with the same period last year, with 915,000 more shoppers.

The same was true for menswear, with spend on shorts having increased by £6.7m as 180,256 more shoppers invested in these pieces, while trainers attracted an additional £21.5m of purchases as 180,000 more shoppers bought an extra 370,000 pairs compared to the previous year.

Despite the falls across winter items, the total clothing and accessories market still grew during the period at 0.6%, with volume up 0.5% and price up 0.1%. Explaining the figures, Glen Tooke, senior fashion analyst at Kantar Worldpanel, said the drop in sales was felt “across the board”.

“Shoppers are not buying what they were expected to buy, but they are still buying. There could be a lot of stock to clear through, but people are still buying more than they were last year.

“One thing we have seen not just with the colder weather, but in general in the market, is people holding off until they need to buy things. They are not getting ready for winter but waiting until they need it. It could be to save money, but also it’s a new trend in behaviour.”

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