They may be in the business of fashion, but clothing retailers appear to be out of vogue with shoppers after suffering a record decline in sales last month.
According to figures from the British Retail Consortium, clothing and footwear sellers had a “dire month” as chilly weather stopped people buying spring and summer lines, such as dresses,T-shirts, shorts and sandals.
The value of food sales in April was up on the same month of last year.
And demand for furniture and home accessories remained solid, with the BRC citing the impact of housing market strength and record low benchmark interest rates.
BRC director Helen Dickinson said: ““April saw the second month of flat sales for UK retailers, with positive food sales offset by record declines in fashion.
“Overall, flat total sales mask a very mixed picture (with) some retailers benefiting from the healthy housing market, while others are evidently more susceptible to the effects of lower consumer confidence and a higher proportion of disposable income going into leisure and entertainment.”
Edinburgh-based David McCorquodale, head of accountancy firm and BRC survey sponsor KPMG’s UK retail sector practice, said: “Consumers still appear to be hooked on a diet of discounts – deflationary trends in the sector look set to continue.”
He added: “With warm spring-like conditions now prevailing, fashion retailers will be hoping this will motivate the summer wardrobe refresh, and the grocers will be looking forward to a summer of sporting events in the hopes the feelgood factor will encourage consumer spending.”
Figures published last month by the Scottish Retail Consortium showed the value of retail sales north of the Border in March was down by 1.3 per cent year-on-year, amid weak demand for clothing and continuing tough times for the grocery sector.
The figures continued a long-running pattern of weaker year-on-year movements in sales value north of the Border than in the UK as a whole.