A strong performance from clothing stores helped boost UK retail sales in November, according to official figures released today (19 December). 

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said total retail sales, including fuel, were up 0.3% on October (up 0.4% excluding fuel), and up 2% on this time last year (up 2.3% excluding fuel).

That followed a poor performance in October, when retail sales declined by a revised figure of 0.9%, the ONS said.

As colder weather spread across the UK, clothing sales rose 3.8% on October, boosted by sales of winter clothing in particular, and following a 3.4% decline in October, when the weather was more mild.

Performance among department stores was less positive, but the ONS highlighted the growing role of internet sales as store operators improve their online offering to customers.

Internet sales accounted for 11.9% of all retail sales in November, and for 11.4% of department store sales, up from 9.9% in October, the ONS said.

While Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, added: “Retailers are hoping for the proverbial late Christmas, with consumers expected to make a last-minute dash for the shops this weekend.

“What discounting there is on the high street has been largely planned by retailers, so consumers will be able to bag some late bargains while stocking up on food and drink to see them through the festive period.”