Hot fall has clothing stores sweating over sales

STORY: Unseasonably hot weather has the world’s clothing retailers in a sweat.

With temperatures above normal in the U.S., Europe and parts of Asia, sales of winter wear are getting off to a bad start.

This week saw H&M - the world’s number-two clothing chain — say that the heat had hurt business in September.

Chief executive Helena Helmersson said shoppers were putting off purchases of autumnal gear.

Now analysts at Weather Trends International say U.S. temperatures could be 12 degrees Fahrenheit above last year's levels over the next three months.

The weather tracking service says that will result in inventory piling up at stores, leading to steep markdowns.

H&M’s upmarket Cos brand is already doing 20% reductions on some knitwear and outerwear.

U.S. retailers including Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods are also forecast to suffer.

Experts say up to 85% of clothing at most stores is produced well in advance, meaning firms could be stuck with piles of unsold coats.

That means expensive storage costs, and no option but to discount.

Analysts say the weather could benefit chains like Costco, however, which tend to procure products locally and can adapt quickly to changing demand.

Apparel retailer True Religion says T-shirts and shorts continue to sell well right now.

Abercrombie & Fitch said there was strong demand for clothing that could be worn all year round.