UK consumer spending on clothing slowed in October from the month before, according to figures released today (11 November), with wet weather blamed for dampening spirits and shoppers showing caution in the run-up to Christmas.

The figures from Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all card transactions in the UK, also pointed to a rise of just 1.4% in clothing spend year-on-year in October.

However, sales of family clothing continued to grow at a solid 3.6%, reaching a three-month high, the data showed.

Overall spending growth in October slowed to 1.9% as consumers managed their finances cautiously ahead of a period of potentially heavy expenditure.

This was the first month since March where spend growth was below the rate of inflation - and may reflect the fact that with wages continuing to fall in real terms, and consumers unwilling to use savings to fund purchases, discretionary spend is becoming more limited.

Average transaction values were also down 3.7% during the month, but the number of transactions grew as shoppers sought value for money on the best deals.

While wet weather and storms led to a shift away from the high-street, one of the biggest beneficiaries was online spending, with women's wear sales surging 40.9% and family clothing up 18.6% on October last year.

"After six months of above-inflation growth in spending, we've seen a slowdown this month showing that, despite a generally positive outlook for the economy, consumers continue to manage their finances cautiously," noted Val Soranno Keating, chief executive of Barclaycard.

"But with the underlying economic fundamentals still positive there are plenty of reasons to think this is a blip rather than a trend. 

"With mortgage approvals running at record rates and Christmas just around the corner, consumers may just be more discerning when it comes to spending their hard-earned money.

"The continuing absence of wage inflation, coupled with consumers' unwillingness to use their savings to fund purchases, is another possible reason for the slowdown."