Clothing sales fell in January, ending nine months of consecutive growth

Clothing sales fell in January, ending nine months of consecutive growth

Mild weather weighed on sales at UK clothing retailers in January, ending nine consecutive months of growth for the category.

According to the Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey, sales volumes at clothing retailers fell, with a balance of -16% reporting year-on-year declines – the lowest result since November 2014 (-39%). It also contrasts with last month, when a balance of +56% retail respondents reported year-on-year growth. 

However, the footwear and leather sector saw sales grow, with a balance of +42% recording gains. This marks a rebound from December, when a balance of -93% posted declines. 

Sales volumes for the retail sector as a whole increase, with 41% of retail respondents saying they were up on last year, while 25% said they were down, giving a balance of +16%. This is down from the previous month (+19%), but above expectations (+9%). 

Internet retail sales volume growth slowed to +27%, falling below the long run survey average of +50%.

Growth is expected to slow somewhat next month, with a balance of +10% forecasting sales volume increases. 

"Retailers have had a steady start to the year through the January sales period," said Rain Newton-Smith, CBI director of economics. "However with competition remaining fierce and persistent price deflation in the sector, it's not surprising the outlook for retailers in February looks subdued.

"Mild weather looks to have hit clothing sales, but current low oil prices continue to support consumer spending."