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Sunshine boosts sales in May but womenswear underperforms

Retail sales increased 0.8% on a like-for-like basis for May, with clothing and footwear sales boosted by the sunny weather.

Sales for clothing and footwear grew during May, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, with trade strengthening in the second half of the month with the warm weather creating demand for summer clothes.


Clothing picked up after a weak April but against a sharp fall in May 2009. T-shirts, tops, shorts, lightweight knits, dresses and swimwear were noted for performing well. Knitwear, trousers and jackets lagged behind. Menswear growth was stronger than womenswear but against a larger fall a year ago. Kidswear outperformed adult’s clothing as a focus on buying essentials and on promotional buys continued.


Footwear sales enjoyed better growth than in March and April, but against larger declines in May last year. The sunny weather giving some boost to sandal sales. Casual shoes generally performed better than formal.

Department stores

Department stores saw an increase in footfall during May helped by the cold wet weather during the second half of the month. The sunny weather in the second half of the month helped clothing and footwear sales, particularly when this coincided with special events and promotions.

Total performance

The BRC said total sales across all retail sectors rose 3% year-on-year and 0.8% on a like-for-like basis. Total sales increased 3.4% for the three months to the end of May, with non-food sales up 3.5% and food 3.3%. Non-food like-for-like sales increased 1.3%.

KPMG head of retail Helen Dickinson, said: “May’s results are more indicative of the underlying trend as the last couple of months were impacted by the timing of Easter. The election campaign didn’t shift consumer spending patterns much either one way or the other but whether the forthcoming Budget will be more damaging remains to be seen and many retailers remain reliant on promotional activity to drive footfall and sales. While clothing and footwear overall had a good month, women’s clothing continued to underperform in this sector as a whole.”

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