Underwear and hosiery sales fared well in April, despite a “dire” month for clothing, according to the latest BRC and KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

Cold weather kept shoppers away from spring/summer clothing ranges, with dresses, shorts and T-shirts showing significant declines, but knitted leggings and essentials like socks and underwear “continued to do well”, the report said.

Overall, retail sales fell flat for the second consecutive month. Like-for-like sales were down 0.6%, compared with the same period last year, while total sales were flat at 0%.

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Online, non-food sales reported a rise of 6.6% in April 2016, a slowdown from March and the slowest growth since April 2013, driving down the three-month and 12-month average growth rates to 8.9% and 11.9% respectively.

However, this was set against a strong comparable period, 15.4% in April 2015, the second highest growth rate of 2015.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “April saw the second month of flat sales for UK retailers with positive food sales offset by record declines in fashion. As a result, the 12-month average growth for non-food sales slowed to 2.5 per cent while for food sales it nudged back into positive territory at 0.1 per cent.

“Overall, flat total sales mask a very mixed picture; some retailers benefitting from the healthy housing market, while others are evidently more susceptible to the effects of lower consumer confidence and a higher proportion of disposable income going into leisure and entertainment. While glimmers of hope are evident, the rapid pace of change in the industry, increasing cost pressures and other businesses burdens remain a cause for concern.”

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