Warm weather burns retailers

Shopping-centreShoppers looking for a winter bargain should make the most of mid-season sales, with retailers forced to slash prices on cozy clothing during an unusually warm autumn.

As summer-like conditions persist across Australia retailers are struggling to shift stock, with most summer products already cleared out after Boxing Day.

The head of the Australian Retailers Association, Russell Zimmerman, says retailers were caught out by the heat and have been discounting products to get customers in the door.

“Right now is a good time for shoppers,” he said.

“The temperature makes a direct impact on sales.”

The latest retail spending data showed an increase of 0.6 per cent to $26.4 billion in February, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

But that was before winter stock was left languishing on shelves, Mr Zimmerman said.

“Last week David Jones had a sign that said mid-season sale, take a further 30 per cent off. They’re cutting their first margin,” he said.

“The only person who is buying product is the young person who is at the cutting edge of fashion.”

The sales have been driven by a need to clear stock to create more space for previously ordered products, he said.

Mr Zimmerman said there might be a shortage of stock once the weather turns cold because many retailers chose to cancel large orders to make savings.

It’s not just fashion brands that have been hurt, with goods such as electric blankets and heaters also impacted.

Recording-breaking temperatures hit northwestern Australia at the start of April before moving south and reaching the east coast, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Special Climate Statement published last week said.

“The heat, which was more characteristic of mid-summer than mid-autumn, was unprecedented in many areas in April for its intensity, its persistence or both,” said the report, by senior climatologist Dr Blair Trewin.

“During this period, the highest April temperatures on record occurred for the states of South Australia, Victoria and NSW.”

The next retail trade figures, for April, will be released in June by the ABS.

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