Clothing sales improved markedly on June

Clothing sales improved markedly on June

The sun shone down on retail fortunes in July with clothing sales improving markedly on the prior month thanks to well-timed promotions and some long-awaited summer sunshine.

Total retail sales rose 1.9% in July, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail/Online Sales Monitor, with warmer weather helping blow away some of the post-referendum blues. On a like-for-like basis, sales edged up 1.1% from July 2015. 

Generally, fashion retailers entered July with higher levels of stocks for their spring-summer ranges than last year, despite starting their sales earlier than last year in June. This, combined with summer temperatures finally arriving in the UK, drove good growth in the clothing category, particularly
for the women's segment. 

Childrenswear was affected by a lag in the start of the back-to-school season and registered a decline. Dresses, shorts and swimwear finally flew off the shelves, while adult sportswear continued to be popular. Most retailers were pleased with their clearance sales but the weather affected their full price sales, which stood lower than at the same time last year. 

For footwear, July remained in decline but was an improvement over the June performance, despite being against a stronger year-on-year comparable. Sandals and flip-flops were the star performers across all segments, while adult shoes sold well, helped by promotional activity. The deficit came from the children's segment, affected by a wait-and-see approach on back-to-school products. 

The BRC said July's sales figures were solid, with CEO Helen Dickinson adding: "Little has materially changed for most UK households in the wake of 23 June, so it is not surprising to us that sales are simply responding to their normal underlying drivers. A heavy month of promotions proved very successful in appealing to bargain-hungry shoppers."

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG added: "Fashion sales improved markedly versus June as well-timed promotions, holiday preparations and some sunshine prompted consumers to supplement their summer wardrobes."

Growth in online sales of non-food products were up 11.2% year-on-year in July, higher than June's growth of 9%. Clothing was one of the largest contributions to growth in online sales as consumers took advantage of end of season sales and a burst of hot weather led people to up their summer related spending. Online remained a significant proportion of total non-food retail sales at 20.4%.