Despite a 2.4% year-on-year drop in UK high street sales in April, which the British Retail Consortium attributes to the timing of Easter this year, sales on Britain’s high streets held firm despite uncertainty over the general election result.
In 2014 Easter was in April, this year it fell in March, although April’s warm weather did encourage shoppers to spend on spring/summer apparel
The sales monitor, from the BRC and KPMG, revealed total non-food sales to increase by 3.2% in the three months to April, up 2.3% on a like-for-like basis.
Following a tough autumn/winter period when unseasonably warm weather hurt sales, fashion retailers benefitted in April.
Women’s clothing was the best performing category, while kidswear fell due to fewer school holidays during the month than last year.
“While the early Easter this year heavily distorted April’s figures, we see the best three month average year-on-year growth since June” said Helen Dickinson, Director General for the BRC.
Fashion sales recorded increases both online and offline, largely in part to less promotional activity than last year.
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail at KPMG, added: “The sunniest April since records began gave a boost to fashion sales, driving demand for spring/summer clothing and footwear and with consumers also took taking advantage of Easter sales to bag a bargain.”
While furniture sales was the worst performing division for April due to tough comparable last year, retail sales overall reported its strongest growth since last June.
“April witnessed a solid performance for fashion and beauty retailers; particularly welcome following a disappointing autumn/winter season,” continued Dickinson.
“While the early Easter this year heavily distorted April’s figures, across all categories, we see the best three month average year-on-year growth since June of last year; a clear indication that confidence among consumers is slowly improving and that despite profitability being under intense pressure due to changes in shopping habits and promotional activity, retail remains a robust pillar of the economy.”