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Warm spring weather boon for clothing & footwear retail sales

Apr '07
UK retail sales were up 3.9% on a like-for-like basis, compared with March 2006, when sales had fallen 1.4%, largely because Easter fell in April in 2006 but in March in 2005. The three-month trend rate of growth rose to 3.5% from 3.0% in February, for like-for-like sales, and to 5.7% from 5.0% for total sales, reflecting the growth of retail space.

Food sales strengthened after dipping in February from January's 6-month high. Clothing and footwear benefited from the warm spring weather which also gave a good boost to outdoor DIY and gardening. Home and leisure were very mixed: good for some but still discount-driven for others. Although overall consumer confidence was a little stronger than in February, spending plans worsened markedly.

Kevin Hawkins, Director General, BRC comments:
“While these results are obviously welcome, they must be set against the poor sales performance we reported a year ago. Discounting and competition generally show no signs of easing off and many consumers are increasingly wary of making big purchases. The current month's results, however, will be comparable with those of April 2006, so we will get a much better idea of the real growth rate in retail sales when we next report.”

Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG comments:
"Total growth of 6.2% and like-for-like growth of 3.9% for March 2007 are not such a strong set of figures as they first appear, as March 2006 heralded the worst monthly BRC-KPMG Retail SalesMonitor results of the whole of 2006. With Easter falling in April, the March results do not represent a high volume month in the context of the year as a whole."

"However, they do highlight a continued level of resilience in the market. Clothing had a much better month as the weather picked up, with women's clothing being the best like-for-like performing sector. But growth rates tailed off again towards the end of the month - the fashion sector, in particular is showing high levels of volatility."

British Retail Consortium

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