Like-for-like sales in July decreased 0.3% as retailers failed to emulate the period last year, which was boosted by the royal baby and British sporting wins.
It was always going to be a tough ask to improve on last July when the nation toasted the birth of the royal baby and Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. This year’s price war meant retailer’s failed to beat an exceptional July 2013 as they competed on price across a large range of essential items.
People choosing to buy clothes suitable for both their holidays and at home helped drive respectable summer clothing sales for some retailers, while others were hit because they had fewer promotions. Children’s clothing was the star performer in July with teen summer casualwear performing well alongside baby and toddler ranges. Those who tailored the new season ranges to be more suited to the warmer weather were rewarded by customers favouring full-price offers over summer sale items.
The use of Sales ended up backfiring on some retailers after being impacted by a lack of summer season stock after June’s end-end-of season Sales. As a result, footwear recorded its biggest year-on-year decline since May 2013. Adult shoes suffered from the lower price of summer ranges compared with higher value of items sold in cold weather such as leather boots.
Health and beauty: down
A strategic shift to a focus on in-store services as opposed to discounting has had a short-term impact on sales. If Easter distortions are excluded then health and beauty recorded its lowest growth since January 2013.
The tills were ringing at furniture retailers in July as people kitted out their homes with big-ticket clearance items. It was the fastest growing category – albeit against a weak performance last year – and was the greatest contributor to total sales growth during July.
Home accessories: up
Sprucing up homes was high on the agenda in July as shoppers invested in home accessories to complement their new furniture, helping the sector to its highest growth since February.
House textiles: up
There was a significant pick-up from the previous month as the hot weather continued to drive demand for lightweight bedding.
In only its second month that it has had its own category on the monitor, the stationery sector turned in another respectable performance and secured fourth place when it came to growth.
Toys and baby equipment: up
As the public sunned themselves in the warm weather, the outdoor toys market enjoyed the resultant benefits. Toy clearances proved the icing on the cake and helped the category to impressive growth.
Other non-food: up
Despite the World Cup drawing to a close in July, television sales continued to do well. The sustained hot months has caused fridges to work in overdrive and consequently July has been a key month for white goods. The gaming market exceeded expectations last month despite the latest Xbox and PlayStations launching back at Christmas time. There will be no surprises that garden furniture sold very well as people made the most of a rare decent British summer.