UK clothing and footwear sales volumes fell 3.5% during December, according to statistics released today (18 January) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The sector, which accounted for 12.3% of all retail sales during the month, saw sales fall 2.8% on a value basis against December last year. The price of clothing and footwear increased 1.2% year-on-year.

However, online showed positive growth, with clothing and footwear sales growing 26.3% against the prior year period.

Overall retail sales volumes increased 0.3% over the month. Excluding December 2010, when retail sales fell sharply due to harsh winter weather, the increase was the lowest December growth since 1998. Retail sales by value grew 0.7% over the month.

Commenting on the results, British Retail Consortium (BRC) director general Helen Dickinson said: "This confirms our own findings that it was a cautious Christmas for many of us.

"With many household budgets still feeling the squeeze and no signs of economic challenges receding any time soon, this led to a respectable rather than spectacular result during the most crucial trading period of the year.

"As with our own figures, the internet was the stand-out performer - our own figures would have shown subzero growth in non-food sales if it hadn't been for online's significant year on year rise."