By Daniel Hunter

The belated arrival of warm weather has saved high street clothing retailers from a disastrous Spring.

Figures released today (Tuesday) in BDO’s monthly High Street Sales Tracker show overall like-for-like high street sales grew 1.3%. The figure would have been higher had Easter fallen in April this year instead of March.

While fashion sales only grew by 0.6% in the month overall, retailers were braced for a heavy fall. As the cold weather dragged on through the first two weeks in April, many stores feared shoppers would give up on Spring lines altogether and hold out for Summer ranges

But as the weather warmed up, shoppers’ pent-up demand was released and the final week of the month saw 13% like-for-like growth in the fashion sector.

Non-fashion sales for April grew by 3.4% and, thanks to the beginning of ‘renovation season’, homewares were up 1.2% year-on-year.

Like-for-like non-store sales grew by nearly a third (29.9%), ending a subdued run for online channels.

Don Williams, National Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, said that although the online market is starting to mature, that doesn’t signal an end to growth.

“The need for innovation within a retailer’s online offering is greater than ever. The stores who invest in their technology, be it optimising sites for mobile platforms, developing tablet apps or ensuring that product gets into the hands of consumers in the most efficient way, , are the ones who will make the most of their non-store offer.”

Williams also warned the high street not to become complacent because of the warmer weather. “Yes, the sunshine will increase footfall, but in this financial climate that simply allows well prepared, well run retailers to do well. Stores that aren’t at the top of their game will soon find that the good weather will not be enough, on its own, to get product off their shelves.”

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