UK clothing and footwear sales fell 1.6% between April and May, the biggest drop since September 2014, according to official data released today (June 18).
The Office for National Statistics said shoppers bought fewer clothes during the month, causing retail sales growth as a whole to slow to 0.2%, down from the 0.9% rise seen in April.
However, fashion retailers saw sales volumes increase 4.2% year on year compared with the same period last year.
This is just short of the 4.6% increase across all sectors, which represents the 26th successive month of growth.
Sales during the first quarter of 2015 were up 4.5% year on year, the slowest year-on-year growth in six months.
Keith Richardson, managing director of retail at Lloyds Bank’s commercial banking arm, said: “After the sunniest April on record, May was another cold month — which must have felt like the return to a long winter for retailers.
“With summer finally making an appearance for most of us now, retailers will hope that shoppers celebrate the sunshine by splashing out on a new summer wardrobe or stocking up in readiness for their holidays.”
Phillip Smith, UK country manager of online retail rating system Trusted Shops, added: “Year-on-year online sales are on the up but retailers must remember that ecommerce presence is the driving factor for offline sales too.
“The shopping cycle is varied and unpredictable – particularly over summer with peaks in and troughs in shopping habits. All elements of the customer journey must be seamless and consistent to meet this changing demand.”
Dan Wagner, founder and chief executive of ecommerce technology firm Powa Technologies, said: “Companies can no longer afford to sit back on their laurels and trust in outdated strategies – in this increasingly connected world consumers want the ability to be able to purchase products anywhere and at anytime. Businesses that listen to the demand for change and give their customers what they want they will thrive.”