Retail sales slowed in June

Retail sales slowed in June

With May sunshine a distant memory, sales of women's fashion and footwear plummeted last month following one of the wettest and dullest starts to a UK summer since records began.

While total retail sales edged up 0.2% in June, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail/Online Sales Monitor, a decline in sales of fashion categories dragged on the month's performance. On a like-for-like basis, sales dropped 0.5% from June 2015. 

It was always going to be a challenge to match the clothing and footwear sales of June 2015, which ended in record hot weather, but clothing recorded its worst decline since May 2009, excluding Easter distortions. And on a 12-month basis, the sector saw its slowest growth since December 2009. 

The women's segment was the worst hit in the month, with seasonal lines underperforming while essentials like nightwear and socks showed some growth. The children's segment resisted the best, thanks to the inclusion of the half-term in June this year.

For footwear, on a 12-month average basis, the category recorded its slowest growth since BRC records began in 2009. Compounding the lack of interest for summery products, smart men's-style working shoes for women didn't prove very popular either. The month started well, helped with the half-term but it became hard to attract shoppers when the weather turned unfavourable, even with early clearance sales.

The BRC says Britain's retailers remain open for business despite the EU referendum vote. "Despite the fall in the pound, the time it takes for any input price increases to translate into higher shop prices will depend on a combination of factors including further changes in the pound, commodity prices and the challenge for retailers to move pricing given the intensity of competition," said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson. "So, there won't be any instant shocks as any changes would take time to feed through."

Growth in online sales of non-food products slowed to a rise of 9% year-on-year in June. While lower than May's growth it was nonetheless a solid performance. Online sales grew across all categories except footwear and increased its share of total non-food sales. Online remained a significant proportion of total non-food retail sales at 20.6%. 

"The gloomy weather failed to persuade shoppers onto the virtual aisles, which meant summer fashion sales resembled tumble-weed on a catwalk and footwear sales flip-flopped considerably," explained David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG. "Rather than browse new summer collections, consumers instead preferred to accessorise with hats, scarves and bangles."