Fashion retail sales soared last month as the sector, which has struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, was buoyed by shoppers investing in post-lockdown outfits.
Total like-for-like fashion sales jumped 57.5 per cent in March – from a base of minus 25.9 per cent in the same month last year.
This marks the first positive result for fashion since before the pandemic hit the UK, buoyed by three weeks of growth in March.
Lifestyle sales also rose last month, jumping 14.7 per cent and offsetting a base of minus 11.6 per cent for March last year – the first positive result since November last year.
The jump was driven by Brits snapping up garden furniture and equipment in preparation to meet friends and family outdoors, which was allowed from 29 March.
Homeware continued its growth trajectory, soaring 112.6 per cent from a base of minus 9.7 per cent for March last year.
Online retail sales continued to accelerate, growing by 157.2 per cent – the second best result on record.
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Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said: “Sales have improved, without a doubt, as retailers have found ways to adapt to lockdown.
“From virtual assistants, to live video sales appointments, retailers have found technological solutions to drive sales, instead of simply shutting down like they did last year.
“However, as last March’s result was so disastrous, these results simply look better on paper as they’re set against such a poor base.”
Meanwhile, separate research by the British Retail Consortium(BRC) showed footfall crept up last month ahead of lockdown easing.
Total UK footfall was down 68.7 per cent in March compared to 2019 levels, an improvement on the three-month average decline of 72.3 per cent.
High street visitor levels were down 64.6 per cent compared to pre-pandemic figures, again comparing favourably against the three-month average drop of 67.9 per cent.
Retail parks, which have fared the strongest throughout the Covid crisis due to their higher number of supermarket and bargain retail tenants, saw footfall decrease 36.8 per cent on 2019 levels.
Meanwhile, shopping centre footfall was down 73.2 per cent on 2019, outperforming the three-month average fall of 76.2 per cent.
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