UK: September sales growth driven by clothing and footwear
UK retailers saw September sales increase, with growth driven primarily by clothing and footwear sales, according to the latest BRC/KPMG sales monitor.
Like-for-like sales increased 1.5% during September, rising 3.4% on a total basis.
British Retail Consortium (BRC) director general Stephen Robertson attributed the gains to a colder September, which gave clothing retailers a "major boost" as shoppers stock up early on coats, boots and knitwear.
"Children's clothes and shoes did particularly well in September, partly because many people left back-to-school buying later this year as a result of competition for their time in August," added Robertson.
Footwear continued to be the top performing category for the fifth month in a row, the monitor found.
"September benefited both from the delayed back-to-school timing at the beginning of the month and from the colder weather towards the end of the period, resulting in good footfall," said BRC senior analyst Anne Alexandre.
"Demand, therefore, was pretty strong across ranges, from transitional products to winter boots, and was better for children's and men's ranges than for women's. Overall, boots were driving the trade and promotional activity was down."
The month started slowly for clothing, when "glorious sunshine" kept customers away from the shops. However, the "cold end of the period", compared with warm weather at the same time last year, made for strong year-on-year growth in the last two weeks of September, Alexandre said.
Children's lines were the best performers as some category as some of the delayed back-to-school sales postponed in August materialised in September.
Commenting on the numbers, Conlumino analyst Neil Saunders said the arrival of winter stock into stores "provided a boost to many sectors," especially clothing, "which had a torrid time over the summer months, when ranges were out of kilter with prevailing weather conditions".
Saunders added that the hope will be that September will be the start of a "sustained rally" as the industry moves towards the holiday season.
"In our view, festive trading is likely to be solid but far from spectacular. It will, once again, be characterised by the familiar pattern of a polarisation between winners and losers. In other words, while things are starting to get better the tide will not lift all boats evenly and there will, for some, be more pain yet to come," emphasised Saunders.
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