Warm weather affects UK sales of winter clothing

Friday, 15 November 2013
The weather will always have an effect on retail and this year the long summer, which continued into autumn, saw sales volumes drop 0.7 percent in October. The mild weather has made it more difficult for retailers to shift winter clothing, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS). Despite the fall in sales, general volumes of clothing are still up 1.8 percent over last year, pointing to an economic recovery and greater consumer confidence.

Retail sector is 5 percent of UK economy

The figures are important as the retail sector represents about 5 percent of the UK economy. Clothing sales were down 2.8 percent compared with September, however, when the new collections hit the shelves.

"Clothing sales have been dampened by a milder October than we've seen in previous years," said Kate Davies from the ONS, but the wider economic picture is much more positive - this follows eight or nine months of growth in the retail sector. In the summer, sales were very much boosted by warm weather - particularly in July and August."

The ONS figures also found that online sales accounted for 10.5 percent of all retailing in October.

Retailers suggested online promotions had helped to boost sales through their websites.

Analysts said the general trend in the UK retail sector was still one of growth, despite the fall in sales last month. "The trend is still positive and the coming Christmas trading period will be important in gauging whether consumers are feeling more confident to spend," said David Tinsley, UK economist at BNP Paribas.

"More interest in coming months will be whether the better economic tone... leads UK consumers to spend more in the pre-Christmas trading period. If that is the case then today's fall will just be a blip."

Image: High street shoppers

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