The British Retail Consortium said fashion categories were “outstanding winners” in March, as the mild weather coincided with the launch of SS14 ranges.
The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor found that this was in contrast with March 2013, when cold temperatures had led to the worst performance of the year.
“A successful Mother’s Day build-up was also singled-out as a key performance driver. There was strong demand for new ranges which sold at full price, helping retailers to restore margins,” the BRC said.
Despite a strong performance from the fashion categories, however, overall retail sales took their biggest annual fall last month since April 2013, hurt by unfavourable year-on-year comparisons due to the late timing of Easter this year.
Total sales dropped by 0.3% in March in value terms, the first annual fall since April last year and following a modest 0.7% annual rise in February.
But BRC director general Helen Dickinson said these sales figures are stronger than might have been expected given the fact that Easter has fallen so late this year.
“Fashion has performed particularly well. Retailers have worked hard to create popular new collections, and have been rewarded with strong demand for women’s clothing and footwear in particular. This improves on the slow start to the season last year when shoppers were more reluctant to spruce up their wardrobes,” she added.