UK clothing sales growth accelerated in the year to December

UK clothing sales growth accelerated in the year to December

Sales growth at UK clothing retailers accelerated in the year to December, while footwear and leather chains saw volumes plummet, according to new figures. 

The Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) latest quarterly Distributive Trades Survey found that sales volumes at clothing retailers increased, with a balance of +56% reporting year-on-year growth, up from +21% in the prior month. 

However, the footwear and leather sector saw sales fall, with a balance of -93% recording declines, compared to the +53% reporting gains in the year to November. 

Sales volumes for the retail sector as a whole increased, with 43% of retail respondents saying they were up on last year, while 24% said they were down, giving a balance of +19%. This is up from the previous month (+7%), but below expectations (+31%). 

Growth is expected to increase in the year to January, with 22% predicting a rise in sales, and 14% forecasting a decline, giving a balance of +9%, the lowest since May 2012 (-6%). 

Following Black Friday, internet sales volumes rose at their quickest pace since April, with a balance of +55%, and the pace of growth expected to hold broadly steady in January. 

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI director of economics believes the sales recovery is not surprising in the final shopping days of Christmas.

"It would be ideal if the industry could keep that momentum into the New Year but retailers know 2015 was tough, and they're expecting 2016 to start in much the same vein," he said. "Nevertheless, retailers are helping to make the pound in customers' pockets go further, and low fuel prices should give an additional boost to consumer spending through the New Year."