UK: January retail clothing sales slump in snow
Retail clothing sales in the UK endured their worst month for over a year in January, impacted by a snap of cold weather and bucking an otherwise positive trend.
According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor released today (5 February), overall retail sales reversed recent declines, increasing 1.9% on a like-for-like basis and 3% in total – the best figures since last September and in 13 months respectively.
Cold and snowy weather brought about a surge in sales of boots, continuing recent positive trends for the footwear sector, which also benefited from post-Christmas sales.
But apparel, after a good start, suffered its worst performance for 14 months (excluding Easter), with children’s wear the worst performing segment.
Anne Alexandre, senior analyst at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), explained: “The snow meant decreased footfall, which online buying could not offset, and the spring/summer collections were no longer appropriate.
“Both the women’s and the children’s segments saw declines.”
There are also signs of consumers trading down, she added, quoting Kantar figures suggesting that supermarket clothing sales grew by 6.2%, compared to the 2.7% rise in sales at high street fashion retailers (year to October 2012).
Discussing the positive overall trend, BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Sales suffered during the recent cold snap, but it was thankfully short-lived and didn’t cancel out the positive showing across the month as a whole.
“Its force was felt in some areas more than others – footwear performed well thanks to a ‘boots boost’, but it wasn’t such a good month for clothing.
“All in all, these figures give a sense that the mood is lifting a little for customers and retailers. Let’s hope it continues.”