UK clothing and footwear sales were mixed in December

UK clothing and footwear sales were mixed in December

UK clothing and footwear retail sales were mixed in December, with in-store sales falling, while online sales grew, albeit at a slower pace than the prior month. 

Sales volumes at textile, clothing and footwear stores fell 4.2% year-on-year in December, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In value terms, sales were down 3%, and average store prices for the category edged down 0.9% to GBP1.3bn (US$1bn). 

Internet sales of textiles, clothing and footwear grew 10.3%, accounting for 13.6% of total sales made online. 

Overall retail sales increased 2.6%, marking the 32nd consecutive month of year-on-year growth. In value terms, sales fell 1%. On a month-by month basis, sales volumes dropped 1%, and the amount spent declined 1.4%. 

"With online sales increasing by a whopping 8.2% compared to the 2014 festive period, it's safe to say Christmas was an online affair for 2015," said David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG. 

The unseasonal weather, he believes, was a contributing factor to the increase in online sales, as heavy rainful prevented consumers from venturing out to the shops, and also discouraged purchased of new "winter warmers".

However, with month-on-month volumes falling, McCorquodale said the impact of Black Friday has made shoppers more savvy, as they spread the cost of Christmas present buying over six weeks rather than the more traditional two. 

"The ease of signing in rather than walking in, combined with increasingly smooth running of logistics and fulfilment networks, is also good news for the consumer but the retailers will have to reconsider the role of the store and the store associate if they wish to reverse the drift to the online channel."