November was "a month of two halves" for UK clothing sales

November was "a month of two halves" for UK clothing sales

November was "a month of two halves" for UK clothing sales - with in-store sales declining despite ending on an encouraging note with promotions around Black Friday, while online sales grew. 

According to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail/Online Sales Monitor, UK retail sales climbed 0.7% during the month, compared to a 2.2% increase in November 2014. On a like-for-like basis, sales edged down 0.4% from a year ago, when they rose 0.9%. 

BRC said clothing registered a decline in November, but ended on an encouraging note with Black Friday deals. The promotions worked best in the men's segment, which was the only one to show growth. It added that there was good demand for sportswear across all segments. 

However, the unseasonably warm weather had a negative effect on winter clothes. Nightwear and party tops had "pleasing" performances, while dresses were not so popular. 

And despite boots starting to sell well during the month, discounts in the previous year meant footwear did not achieve year-on-year growth in November. 

BRC director general Helen Dickinson described November as quite a slow month for retail overall.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, added: "November's relatively flat sales figures are a reality check for the retail sector with consumers holding off for a Black Friday bargain pitted against retailers determined to hold onto their hard-earned margins. 

"The result was that, despite the hype around Black Friday, there was minimal loosening of the family purse strings compared to last year and retailers, facing significant cost increases next year, will be striving to wean UK shoppers off the discounting drug." 

Online sales of non-food products grew 11.8% in November versus a year earlier, when they increased 12% year-on-year. Online sales of clothing grew, reaching its highest penetration rate on record, at 28.9%. BRC said the ease of online shopping drew in Black Friday customers. 

Footwear, however, was the worst performing online category, reporting its second slowest growth so far this year. BRC attributed the slowdown to women's footwear, which reported its weakest growth since September 2014.