Sales at UK clothing and footwear stores in the key Christmas trading period got off to a better start than the retail sector as a whole, according to official data released today (20 December).

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the quantity of goods bought in November was almost flat with last year, edging up just 0.9%. Total sales values were estimated to have increased by 1.5%.

Month-on-month, there was no change in the quantity of goods bought and a fall of 0.1% in the amount spent.

Textile, clothing and footwear stores saw sales volumes and values rise 2.0% in November. Prices of goods sold were estimated to have increased by 0.1% in the year.

Average weekly sales at clothing and footwear stores were GBP0.9bn (US$1.5bn) in November, the ONS data shows, with11.2% of sales (worth GBP101m) made via the internet.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the results confirm that November was a cautious month with many consumers holding back on pre-Christmas spending.

"Christmas shopping was slow out of the starting blocks in November, as pressures on budgets and fears about the future left many of us reluctant to commit to spending early," said BRC director general, Helen Dickinson.

"But it's the finish which matters, and the signs are that sales and shopper numbers have been building at a respectable pace throughout December, especially in recent weeks.

"With Christmas falling on a Tuesday this year this weekend will be the critical one - I'm expecting a last-minute rush but overall in sales terms it will be neither a bumper Christmas nor a disaster."