UK: Clothing retail sales grow but at a slower pace
Clothing retail sales rose again in the year to March, albeit at a slower pace than the month before - but growth next month is expected to rebound strongly, new figures suggest.
The latest distributive trades survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) showed sales volumes at clothing retailers grew substantially in March, with a balance of respondents (+27%) reporting growth on a year ago.
However, this was a little slower than the balance of +33% who saw growth in February.
Across the survey as a whole, 36% of respondents reported that sales volumes were up on a year ago, while 23% said they were down - giving a balance of +13%. This marks year-on-year growth for the fourth month in a row.
Sales growth was weaker than last month's +37% - the strongest seen since the onset of the financial crisis - but is expected to pick up again in the year to April, the CBI said.
"It's promising to see a run of positive growth rates on the high street, with sales up on a year ago for the fourth month in a row," said Barry Williams, Asda chief merchandising officer for food, and chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel. "We're hopeful that this will continue, but there are still signs that this needs to be a cautious hope.
"The pace of growth has slowed, likely in part down to the later timing of Mother's Day and Easter this year - conversely, this is the same reason many retailers are looking forward to more robust growth next month."
Internet retail sales volumes continued to rise strongly in the year to March (+55%), with this the fastest pace in 11 months.
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