Year-on-year sales growth at UK clothing retailers picked up in the first two weeks of December, according to figures released today (19 December) by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

A balance of +39% of clothing retailers said they had seen growth in retail sales volumes during the month, increasing on the +29% reported in November. But shops selling footwear and leather saw falling sales (-9%) for the second month running.

Overall growth in sales on the high street slowed in December, results from the business organisation's latest Distributive Trades Survey showed. A balance of +19% of all retailers reported increases - down from a high of +33 in November. The results also came in below their expectations (+25%).

"This month's survey hasn't quite provided the Christmas cheer that retailers anticipated, with sales growth falling short of expectations," said Anna Leach, CBI head of economic analysis. "Clearly, weak spending power and uncertainty over the economic outlook are likely to remain key risks to the retail sector in 2013."

Judith McKenna, chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and Asda chief operating officer, added: "This latest data covers the period to the middle of December and we should take heart that sales on the high street have held up during the early crucial Christmas shopping period.

"However, on-going economic fragility is maintaining the squeeze on household incomes, and it's notable that sales are below par for the festive season.

"In reality, sales growth has actually slowed since the autumn and retailers are expecting a further slowdown in the New Year."

Sales growth is expected to continue losing steam next month, with retailers expecting a slower rise once again in the year to January (+10%).