Clothing and footwear sales grew in September, led by a strong performance from kidswear and back-to-school ranges.
Autumn ranges were impacted by the mild weather at the start of the month, with winter footwear and clothing sales picking up towards the end of the month, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
UK retail sales values rose 2.8% on a like-for-like basis in September, compared with a 1.5% fall in September last year. However, the September 2008 reporting period was weak due to turmoil in the financial markets.
The September 2009 period covered by the report also included the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Total sales were up 4.9% on a year ago, versus a 1% gain in September 2008.
“Sunny autumn weather and signs of a less gloomy economic outlook have boosted non-food sales, particularly in children’s clothing and footwear.”
KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson
Clothing and footwear sales picked up in September, led by kidswear. Menswear sales were down on a year ago and womenswear was flat. The performance was driven by a late back-to-school period.
The mild weather hit sales of autumn ranges in September, especially after people bought transitional ranges in the cold and wet July.
End-of-season summer clothing cleared well on sunny days but shoppers postponed buying heavier winter clothes. Jackets, light knitwear, leggings and long cardigans drove sales and casual ranges outperformed formalwear.
Footwear sales rose year-on-year in September, driven by kid’s footwear during the back-to-school period.
The mild weather drove sales of sandals and summer casuals at discounts. New season ranges sold better towards the end of the month with shoppers waiting until the end of the month for colder weather to buy winter shoes and boots. Ankle boots and smart shoes sold better than high-leg boots. Premium and value ranges showed gains on the whole, but middle market remained tough.
Department store trade was “mixed” in September according to the report. It varied with the weather and across sectors. Sales were boosted by special Sale days and promotions. Clothing and footwear showed some improvement, though autumn ranges were impacted by the mild weather.
Non-food non-store sales –including internet, mail-order and order made by phone - sales were up 11.9% on last year compared to a growth of 7.9%in August. However this growth could now be impacted by the postal strike.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “For some customers confidence is trickling back. These are the best total sales growth figures since January 2008. But we mustn’t get carried away. They are compared with a weak performance last September.”
KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson said: “Sunny autumn weather and signs of a less gloomy economic outlook have boosted non-food sales, particularly in children’s clothing and footwear.”