More than a third of UK clothing retailers have recorded a drop in sales volume in September, as the country's retail sector continues to be hit by weak consumer confidence.

The sector was one of the hardest hit, according to the CBI's latest Distributive Trades Survey, with clothing retailers reporting a 36% drop in sales volume. Department stores saw a fall of 46%, and footwear and leather retailers a drop of 15%.

Overall, the volume of sales on the high street in September was lower than a year ago, but the pace of decline has stabilised, the CBI said today (27 September).

A total of 24% of retailers saw sales volumes rise year-on-year, while 39% reported a fall. That gives a balance of -15%, the weakest since May 2010. Although the growth in sales volumes was virtually unchanged on August, this was slightly weaker than expected.

Looking ahead to next month, sales volumes are expected to decline at a similar rate (-14%).

"High street sales are sluggish but appear to be stabilising," said Judith McKenna, chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and ASDA chief operating officer.

 "However consumer confidence continues to be bruised by a combination of low wage growth, high prices and rising unemployment. Shoppers are still clamping down on discretionary spending and focused on buying the basics at the best price.

"With the consumer squeeze set to get tighter with the winter utility bills rise, we expect retailers will face a challenging October."

The volume of orders placed upon suppliers fell at a balance of -16% of retailers, and is expected to decline at a similar rate next month (-19%). Stock levels are adequate (+16%) to meet expected demand.