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Clothing and footwear sales slump

Rainy high street

Fashion retailers suffered their worst year-on-year sales decline in eight years in October, as consumer spending dropped by its fastest rate in four years.

Clothing and footwear retailers saw sales fall by 9% year-on-year last month, according to new research by credit card provider Visa.

Visa said the decline in fashion retail sales was the worst seen since it began the survey in 2009.

The news comes as consumer spending shrank by 2% year-on-year during the month, marking the fifth monthly decline in six months and the quickest fall since September 2013.

This was driven by a 5% year-on-year fall in consumer spending on the high street, which also declined for the sixth month in a row.

Mark Antipof, Visa chief commercial officer, said the pre-Christmas trading season “got off to a poor start”, in the face of strained household budgets.

“Clothing retailers were the worst hit, suffering from the fastest drop in spending since the Index started in 2009. The unseasonably warm weather didn’t help, but the sector has been struggling to increase sales since the beginning of this year,” Antipof said.

“Retailers will now be pinning their hopes on strong performance around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. November’s data will therefore provide the first real clue on how Christmas is shaping up.”

Decreases were also seen in other key areas of consumer spending, such as on food and drink, which dropped by 2%, and recreation and culture, which fell by 2.9%.

However, categories such as hotels, bars and restaurants, and goods and services, which includes beauty, hair and jewellery, showed resilience. The former grew by 3.2% while the latter was up 6.5%.


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