The clothing sector has bounced back from a disappointing start to the year to contribute to the strongest overall UK retail growth since the summer of 2012, according to new figures released today (25 February).  

The latest Distributive Trades Survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) showed sales volumes rose for the ninth consecutive month in February, with 45% of respondents reporting growth on a year ago, and just 8% saying they were down.

This gave a balance of +37%, the strongest since June 2012 (+42%) and easily beating expectations (+15%).

Retailers also expect sales volumes to grow at a robust pace in March (+28%), with 43% expecting them to rise and 15% to fall.

The clothing sector bounced back from a disappointing January (-55%) with growth in sales volumes of +33% in February.

"The high streets have kicked on once again this month, with growth the strongest since the summer of 2012," said Barry Williams, Asda chief merchandising officer for food, and chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey Panel.

"There is growth across many sectors, including grocers and clothing outlets, while investment intentions are at their highest for more than three years.  Although we are by no means seeing a universally confident shopper, the positive indicators have perhaps given some people the urge to spend.

"Overall sales have been remarkably resilient in the face of disruption from the exceptional weather across the UK, which has badly affected many families and businesses."