Clothes sales slumped in Sweden last month and expectations of increased sales over the Christmas period were unfulfilled.

"Besides the mild weather, we have noticed consumers' decreasing will to buy," said Åsa Lindell Byström, PR manager for Lindex. "It's trendier to buy a DVD player than a pair of pyjamas."

December is an important time of year for clothing retailers, with sales reaching about 14 per cent of annual clothing figures. December 2000, sales were reduced 3.5 per cent, according to Swedish trade institute HUI's Footwear and Clothing (Stil) index. Dresses sales were hit hardest by the mild weather, while ready-to-wear and suits sank five per cent. Meanwhile shoe sales increased 4.5 per cent compared with the same month the previous year.

The mild weather has hit sales hard. "Those who buy fashion bought their jackets and coats in September," said Åke Weyler, MD of the Shoe and Textile Businesses Association, "but most consumers buy replacements or necessity purchases, and they have not bought very much."

Sales for the total year were 3.5 per cent up on 1999.

 By Penny Leese