UK: Clothing loses title as best retail performer in July
The women’s clothing segment outperformed the men’s
Clothing lost its title as the best retail performer in July, due to less promotions, while online, the category performed reasonably well for the month.
The BRC/KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed UK retail sales were down 0.3% on a like-for-like basis from July last year, when they increased 2.2% on the preceding year. Total sales climbed 1.3% against a 3.9% a year ago.
The three-month average total sales growth, 1.3%, is below the twelve-month average of 2.3%.
Clothing lost its title as the best performing category in July, falling to sixth place, but outperformed all other categories on a three-month basis. Several retailers cited less promotions as a reason for such a "disappointing" month, while others pointed to the warm weather as a driver of "respectable" summer clothing sales.
The women's segment outperformed the men's and was helped by the popularity of branded fashion. But children's clothing was the frontrunner in July, with teens' summer casual's wear doing well, together with baby & toddler.
Footwear was placed towards the bottom of the growth ranking table in July and saw its largest year-on-year decline since May last year. Some retailers attributed this to a lack of summer season stock, which sold out in June's end-of-season sales.
Footwear didn't fare much better online either, reporting its deepest decline since May 2013, and was demoted from second to ninth place in the growth rankings table.
For clothing online, however, July was a reasonably good month, with sales growth ahead of both the previous month and last year. Although the proportion of clothing sales online was at its lowest since December, at 21.2%, this was 1.9 percentage points above July last year.
Clothing has remained the second largest contributor to online non-food sales growth for three consecutive months.
Overall, online sales of non-food products grew 14.9% in July, when they increased 7.9% on the previous year. The online penetration rate was 16.7% last month, against 15.3% in July last year, almost in line with its three-month average of 16.9%.
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "Despite the glorious sunshine, retailers managed to capture shoppers' attention online through the use of targeted and innovative digital campaigns, linking products to holiday plans, festivals and sporting events taking place across the UK.
"This clever use of customer data and technology paid dividends for the sector, with non-food online sales soaring to record levels."
Neil Saunders, managing director of Conlumino, noted that while July's overall numbers are "fairly anaemic", he believes that, for retailers, the month was both "the worst of times and the best of times".
For non-food, he said conditions looked "much rosier", with many sectors benefiting from the economic recovery. But he pointed to flat or falling like-for-like sales across the sector, and an erosion of profitability: "classic symptoms of a saturated and mature market".
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