UK retail sales volumes fell between December and January according to the Office for National Statistics. The decline was driven by textile, clothing and footwear stores, household goods stores and "other" stores.
The British Retail Consortium says that retail sales in February were up moderately (like-for-like), compared with February 2006 when sales had risen only marginally. Food sales remained strong but slower, with clothing and footwear sales largely flat.
Reports suggest that, despite many high street clothing retailers pronouncements of "difficult" trading conditions, premium menswear retailers enjoyed steady sales. Shopper's demand for spring product, combining two factors - a smarter look and transitional weight - has driven sales.
Many retailers have shunned traditional heavy outwear for autumn 2007 buying, citing unpredictable weather as a major deterrent to forward ordering.
The changeable weather of the last season was once again cited as the main problem for a difficult winter sales season. This in itself may prompt short-ordering and local stock buying for autumn 2007 in order to budget for both changes in fashion and weather.
Australian Wool Innovation Limited