UK: Clothing and footwear retail sales rise in December
A strong performance from clothing stores helped boost UK retail sales in December, according to official figures released today (17 January).
Sales at textile, clothing and footwear stores were up 1.2% on December last year, and climbed 4% in value terms, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The average spend was up 5.9% on the prior year period, while average store prices were up 1.5%. According to the data, upwards pressure to average store prices came predominantly from clothing and food stores again.
Total retail sales climbed 5.3% in December, fueled by a rush for Christmas purchases. This was the fastest growth since October 2004.
The increase was led by 8.1% growth in smaller stores year-on-year, compared to 2.6% from larger stores. Non-food stores were the main contributor of growth in the former.
Internet sales were also up, by 11.8% on December 2012 and by 1.8% compared with November 2013.
Ian Geddes, UK head of retail at Deloitte, said the results indicate a successful festive season for the majority of retailers, significantly improving on last year.
"Undoubtedly, we have seen polarised performances, with those that held their nerve in the run-up to Christmas reaping the rewards. In addition, retailers that were able to provide flexible delivery won over consumers, as their confidence in next-day delivery and click-and-collect services rose. Overall, the winners heavily outweighed the losers."
Daniel McCormack, head of UK and European economics for Macquarie, concurred, describing the results as "very strong indeed".
He did, however, add that while the data suggest UK consumer spending entered 2014 with plenty of momentum, that spending is likely to slow going forward.
"The strong spending numbers in recent times have been supported by temporary factors in our view - PPI payments, pent up demand, a temporary boost to real incomes - that are now fading. We expect UK consumer spending and GDP growth to moderate in 1H14."
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