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Clothing and footwear lead UK sales growth

Clothing and footwear led a rise in UK retail sales last month, recording its fastest rate of growth since December 2011.

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG today did not provide an exact figure for the clothing and footwear rise but reported UK retail sales more generally rose 1.3% on a like-for-like basis in August, compared with the same period last year. This followed a rise of 1.8% in August 2013.

Total sales increased 2.7% last month, which the organisation said was the best performance since January, excluding Easter distortions. They rose 3.6% in August 2013.

Non-food – which includes clothing and footwear – reported growth of 3.9% over the three months to August 2014, in line with its 12-month average.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said the boost in clothing and footwear indicated “a higher level of consumer confidence in the economy.”

She added: “Retailers have pointed to the successful launch of their autumn fashion collections helped by the cooler weather, as well as a good response to marketing campaigns for back to school clothing.”

KPMG’s head of retail David McCorquodale agreed and said: “Back to school sales and the changing of the season saw fashion retailers put in a strong performance in August. Overall, it has been a very successful summer for non-food retailers, placing them on a firm footing for the autumn/winter trading period and the run up to Christmas.”

Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 19.8% in August compared with the previous year, which was the highest online growth on record. The non-food online penetration rate was 16.5% in August, 1.7 percentage points higher than in August 2013.

Dickinson said: “For retailers the challenge in these circumstances is to ensure continued investment in digital innovation, the physical retail space and job creation. For our part the BRC continues to engage with all the parties to look at fundamental reform of the business rates system in order to ease the costs of doing business to support the industry’s ability to serve its customers better and respond to transformational change.”

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