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Clothing sales February volumes sink below general retail, according to the CBI

Clothing retailers reported the lowest volume of sales in February since March 2009, according to CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

Clothing retailers reported the lowest volume of sales in February since March 2009, despite the wider retail market experiencing little change in sales volume year-on-year.

In February’s survey 34% of retailers reported an increase, while 36% reported a decline. This gave a negative balance of 2%, an improvement on last month’s negative 22% balance. Clothing retailers however reported a balance of -41%, the lowest figure since March 2009 (-98%).

Non-store retailers, such as mail order and online retailers, recorded a positive 71%.

Asda chief operating officer and chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel Judith McKenna said: “It’s good to see there are more positive signs on our high streets. But consumers are clearly continuing to focus their spending on day-to-day needs, rather than big ticket or luxury items.”

“With disposable incomes under constant pressure, retailers remain concerned about the general business outlook for the rest of 2012,” she added.

Barclays Corporate head of retail and wholesale Richard Lowe said the figures provided “a shot in the arm” for retailers.

Price inflation in shops, although above the long-run average with a balance of positive 49%, is down from its positive 73% peak a year ago and at its lowest rate since late 2010.

Retailers expect March’s sales volumes to remain flat but still harbour concerns about the longer term outlook with sentiment about the general business situation over the next three months remaining negative at a -12% balance.

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