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Online helps boost sluggish February sales

Womenswear sales remained sluggish in February despite online revenues helping to boost an otherwise average month for clothing sales.

Heavy rain across the south of the country came as an advantage to online retailers as shoppers chose to buy online to the detriment of the high street. However excluding online revenues, clothing sales would have declined in February, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

Across the total retail sector like-for-like UK sales were down 1% compared to last year, however non-food online sales soared 14.3%. Online clothing sales contributed to 23.6% of total revenues across the clothing sector, a strong increase of 2.6% on last year.

KPMG head of retail David McCorquodale said: “After suffering one of the wettest winters on record it’s perhaps unsurprising that shoppers preferred to shop from the sanctuary of their sofas in February.  Online played a crucial role this month, and without internet sales, non-food sales would have fallen into negative territory.”

Department stores also benefitted from the wet weather as the protected shopping centre environment. However retailers who had stocked a lot of knitwear and outerwear had to run clearance Sales to tempt customers to buy those items in the milder weather.

McCorquodale said the flat sales across the total retail market served “as a reminder that recovery is far from certain”. He added: “Retailers need the Government to deliver measures in the forthcoming Budget which will give shoppers more pounds in their pocket, but more importantly imbue them with the confidence to spend them.”

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