Warm October leaves UK retailers cold
UK retail sales were up 1.4% year-on-year in October
Retail sales in the UK in October were flat on last year as continued warm weather hit sales of winter clothes and footwear.
Total sales were up 1.4% on last year – an improvement on September’s performance and above the three-month average growth of 1%, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor monthly report.
Meanwhile, online non-food sales were up 15.4% on last year, representing the highest growth figure since Christmas 2013.
“Looking at these figures, most retailers will feel they were tricked rather than treated in October,” said David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG.
“Even the most experienced of shopkeepers could not have foreseen a heatwave at Halloween and most were left with sales which were flat at best.
“Sadly, this warmer weather has left many fashion retailers with a substantial stock overhang, raising the question of earlier and deeper discounts as we get closer to Christmas.
“Retailers need a nippy November to help them sell their winter stock before the season’s out.”
The BRC said “transitional” items of clothing, such as light woollens, sold better than heavier and more expensive cold weather items, adding that retailers had been forced into more promotional events than originally planned.
Women’s wear registered the slowest growth, while children’s wear was boosted by good sales of costumes for Halloween.
The report added: “Nevertheless, after two months of unseasonably warm weather, most fashion retailers are still sitting on relatively high levels of winter stock, holding their nerves in the hope of colder weather.”
Shoes outperformed boots in footwear – in a month which traditionally sees peak sales for the former – while there was a record increase in demand for sandals.
In online retail, clothing recorded strong growth, boosting its share of overall clothing sales by 2.5 percentage points to 23.2%, with footwear following a similar pattern.
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