Do you want the good news or the bad news? OK, here’s the good news. Visa Europe’s latest data on UK retail sales showed January clothing and footwear turnover up 5% on the year. That’s good after a worrying 1.2% fall in December.
Visa said the cold weather that finally arrived was the cause as consumers suddenly remembered they needed coats, knits and boots.
And BDO’s high street tracker echoed that with overall comparable sales up 1.4% and fashion retailer sales up as much as 6.8% in the second (very chilly) week of the month.
Great. Really great. But hang on… wasn’t much of the product in-store last month available at clearance prices? Personally I avoided anything marked down by ‘only’ 30% and went straight for the knitwear bargains at 60% or 70%-off.
Also not looking so great was the fact that online spending growth slowed, according to Visa, rising only 4.6% – although BDO said online sales rose 20.2% (that’s the problem of these surveys,they all use different criteria to reach their figures).
What it all means is that we still have no clearer a picture of just how retailers fared in terms of profit margins and how much of their autumn/winter product had to be marked down at the end of the season.
We’ll have to wait until we get some more results announcements for that.