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Schoolwear and new autumn collections lift retail sales in August

Clothing and footwear sales increased slightly in August, helped by new autumn ranges and strong sales of schoolwear.

The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed that although both clothing and footwear sales were stronger than in July, it was against a larger decline in August 2009.

Total retail sales across all retail sectors rose 1% on a like-for-like basis in August and 2.8% in total, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. On a three month basis, non-food like-for-likes increased 0.3%.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “The good news is sales are still growing but anxiety about job cuts and tax rises is putting people off making major spending commitments.

“With the Government about to detail its cuts and a VAT rise in prospect, retailers will be hoping consumer confidence doesn’t slip over the next few months.”

Clothing   

Clothing sales showed only marginal growth in August, against a larger decline in August 2009. The growth was helped by an improvement in menswear and kidswear, while womenswear fell behind.

The BRC said consumer caution continued to impact trade, with people searching for good deals and promotions. Kidswear sales were boosted by “aggressive promotions” on back-to-school items, while new autumn 10 lines had a mixed start although jackets, raincoats and knitwear performed well during the cooler wet weather. Dresses, especially maxi styles, tops and skirts all sold well.

Footwear

Overall sales growth in footwear was stronger than July, but it was against a larger decline in August last year. Women’s and kids footwear showed stronger gains than men’s, with new season ranges and some end-of-clearance markdowns boosting sales of women’s footwear. Kids footwear was aided by back-to-school buying with a number of promotions and strong competition between supermarkets and footwear specialists.

Department Stores

Many department stores enjoyed a good month with wet weather boosting footfall and new autumn ranges attracting shoppers. Clothing and footwear benefited from the weather but the BRC said consumer caution continued to dampen big-ticket purchases.  

Internet

Online, phone and mail order sales were up 17.8% compared to August 2009.

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