The trend for comfortable leisurewear has continued throughout the summer, according to leading high-street fashion retailer Primark.

In its latest trading update, owner Associated British Foods said demand for “comfort living’ had led to strong sales of leisurewear such as leggings and cycle shorts from June to September this year.

It continues the trend of people buying more loungewear due to spending more time at home because of Covid-19 lockdowns and self-isolation – a trend reflected in orders at some garment decorators.

Associated British Foods added that sales of Primark’s autumn/winter ranges have started well. Its back-to-school ranges started strongly with demand for its “great value essentials” such as children’s T-shirts and socks.

However, like many garment suppliers and decorators, Primark has been hit by the reduction in international shipping during the global pandemic. “We are experiencing some delays to the handover of some autumn/winter inventory caused by port and container freight disruptions,” it warned.

Primark’s operating profit margin in the second half of its financial year benefited from a “significant” reduction in store labour costs and lower store operating costs – expected to be over 10% – due to lockdown.

In its statement, it explained: “In the UK, our sales were affected by the rapid and significant increase in late June and early July in the number of people required to self-isolate following contact tracing alerts – the ‘pingdemic’. Data shows that high-street footfall was impacted by the caution displayed by many consumers at that time.”

The company’s forecast for full-year adjusted operating profit, stated before repayment of job retention scheme monies, is now ahead of the profit delivered in the previous financial year.

Ahead of announcing annual results on 9 November, the group said adjusted operating profit in the fourth quarter for both the food businesses and Primark is anticipated to exceed its expectations.