UK: Clothing retail sales drop in February
UK retail clothing sales bucked the overall trend in February, falling by both volume and value on a year ago.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, total retail sales were up 3.7% by volume and up 3.5% by value in February compared to a year ago, rising 1.7% and 1.3% respectively on January.
Three-monthly figures showed a 1.6% volume increase – the 12th consecutive period of growth, making it the longest period of continuous growth since November 2007.
Total internet sales were up 12.4% on a year-on-year basis, and up 2.5% on January.
By contrast, textile, clothing and footwear stores recorded a 1.4% decline in volume sales in February compared to last year, falling 0.6% by value.
Average store prices for the sector were up 0.9% and average weekly sales totalled GBP0.7m, the ONS said.
Internet sales of textiles, clothing and footwear rose 15.3% by value in February, accounting for 11.1% of all sector sales.
“February was a strong month for retail sales volumes, continuing the general upward trend seen since the start of 2013,” said John Hawksworth, chief economics at PwC.
He added that the three-monthly sales rise was well above GDP growth, “showing that retail spending is a key driver of the recovery”.
“Looking to 2015 and beyond, strong retail and consumer spending can only be sustained if real income growth picks up, but there have recently been some encouraging signs that this may be starting to occur as employment continues to rise strongly, while real earnings begin to catch up with inflation.”
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