September's hot weather hits High Street trade but garden centres prosper

Garden centres were 7-9 per cent up on average in September but the High Street had its weakest performance since December 2008.

Garden Centre Association chief executive Iain Wylie said for garden centres: "The sunshine created demand." But, in contrast, UK retail sales were down 2.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis from September 2013, when they had increased 0.7 per cent on the preceding year.

According to latest British Retail Consortium figures, on a total basis, general retail sales were down 0.8 per cent, against a 2.4 per cent rise in September 2013. This is the weakest performance since December 2008 excluding Easter distortions.

Clothing and footwear were the worst performing categories in September, reporting record declines since April 2012 and March 2013, respectively.

Over the last three months, food showed a decline of 1.7 per cent and reported its first 12-month average decline in at least five years, at -0.2 per cent. Non-food reported growth of 3.0 per cent over the three months to September 2014, underperforming its twelve-month average of 3.6 per cent.

Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 8.2 per cent in September versus a year earlier, when it had grown 13.4 per cent. This was the lowest online growth since August 2013. The Non-food online penetration rate was 17.5 per cent in September, 1.3 percentage point higher than in September 2013.

KPMG retail head David McCorquodale said:  "The prolonged Indian summer wilted retail sales in September, leaving clothing retailers hot under the collar. Selling woolly jumpers in warm weather is a tough ask, even for the most talented of sales staff.

"After a bumper summer, this is a disappointing outcome for retailers and has undoubtedly reversed some of the sales gains made in August.  However, if temperatures drop to a more seasonal level this cooler weather will quickly turnaround retailers’ fortunes and help them to sell their autumn winter ranges.

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