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Market Commentary

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Weekly Retail & Leisure News - 28​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ March, 2016​​​​

ONS February retail sales rise but wet weather impacts clothing sales

Backing up the figures released two weeks ago by the BRC, the ONS has released February's retail sales data, showing LFLs rose 3.8% compared with last year, the 34th consecutive month of growth. Retail sales volumes dropped 0.4% from January's 2.3% rise, a more modest decline than expected. However, clothing and footwear sales decreased by 2.8%, as many retailers' sales were impacted by the cold and wet weather.

Poor weather conditions also appear to have impacted Easter trading for many retailers. Footfall data from Springboard has shown that after a boost from the sunny conditions on Good Friday, the number of visits to the UK's shopping centres and high streets dropped 6% and 10.5% on Saturday and Monday compared with last Easter.

In other news, Next has posted a 5% rise in its full-year profits during the 52 weeks to end of January. The fashion and variety retailer's total sales across its bricks-and-mortar stores and its directory business advanced 3.7% in the period. Next commented that net new space contributed 2.4% towards the sales growth, and has also announced plans to develop and expand its current UK retail store network. However, in a note of caution, Next CEO, Lord Wolfson warned that this year could be the retailer's "toughest" year since 2008, and it was braced for a fall in consumer spending as growth in real earnings had "slowed markedly" from September last year.

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