Clothing and footwear sales are set to outpace total retail spending in the UK during the Christmas period thanks to their ongoing popularity as gift items.

Clothing and footwear spending is forecast to increase 2.8% to GBP14.9bn (US$23.7bn) in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to new research from Verdict and SAS UK. Meanwhile, total retail spending is set to edge up 1% to GBP86bn over the same period.

Retailers which combine an attractive brand image with good value for money and quality are among those likely to benefit the most, the research says, including Barbour, Victoria's Secret and Ted Baker.

Swedish fashion retailer H&M and Spanish clothing chain Zara will also be popular destinations as they tap into demand for occasion wear as well as the latest trends for tweed tailoring and quilted coats, according to the 'How Britain will shop for Christmas' report.

The increased level of promotions and discounting already seen in 2012 is forecast to continue in the run-up to Christmas, with shoppers likely to wait for savings events before making their purchases.

Despite this, the clothing and footwear sector is expected to see sales volumes rise 1.1% during the fourth quarter, compared to a 1% decline last year.

Online is set to account for 10.6% of total retail spend this year as consumers do their Christmas shopping via the internet or make comparisons against store prices. The number of people shopping online increased by 4.9% in 2011 to more than 30m and is expected to rise by just over 4% to 32m this year.

Online clothing and footwear retail expenditure is estimated to grow 12.4% to GBP5.5bn in 2012, the report noted.

Verdict expects the economy will start to make a weak recovery in 2013 but any gains in household spending will be overshadowed by continuing uncertainty in the eurozone area and government austerity measures. But the research firm does not expect to see any major improvement until 2015.