Older and larger shoppers boost high streets

The gloom hanging over the UK retail sector was broken by positive numbers from several specialist retailers this week.

On Friday, fast-growing value homeware retailer Dunelm showed better than expected sales growth of nearly 2 per cent in the quarter to the end of June.

Analysts believe that “interior retailers” benefit when the weather takes a turn for the worse, mirroring the boost that garden centres saw in April when the UK saw a spell of unseasonably warm weather.

The “plump pound” and “grey pound” have also proved resilient. N Brown, the plus-size home shopping retailer, reported that like-for-like sales were 1.6 per cent ahead of last year for the last 18 weeks, although promotional discounts are still needed to tempt customers to spend. Women’s wear concession Jacques Vert, which appeals to older shoppers, also reported a small boost to sales, which were up 1.7 per cent over the last nine weeks. Analysts believe this could bode well for Marks and Spencer when it reports first-quarter figures next Wednesday.

Small-cap jeweller Theo Fennell saw its shares rise by 11 per cent on Thursday’s full-year results, after it said that demand from affluent Chinese shoppers in London and its plans to open stores in Asia and the US would return it to profitability next year.

There was also positive sales news from Pets at Home, the specialist retailer owned by private equity firm KKR. Sales increased nearly 11 per cent in the year to March 31.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.