Clothing could only manage “decent” sales towards the end of the year, with the sector suffering from a slow start to festive buying and high levels of discounting.
Figures published by BRC/KPMG this morning showed takings at non-food retailers merely edged up in the last three months of the year, by 0.1% on a like-for-like basis and 0.7% on a total basis.
Clothing was affected by a “relatively slow” start to December, with the BRC reporting around 69% of fashion retailers offering discounts, of up to 70%.
Overall however, retailers had less stock going in to Sale and therefore sold more clothing at full price than last year. Clothing was the fourth strongest performing retail category for the month.
Footwear was the strongest performing retail category, boosting the overall total sales tally to 1.5% for the month of December and 0.3% on a like-for-like basis compared to 2011.
Online sales were up 17.8% in the month - a decline on the same month last year, when they rose 18.5%.
“Against the relentlessly tough economic backdrop and low expectations, these results are not a cause for celebration, but not a disaster either,” said Helen Dickinson director general of the British Retail Consortium.
“Online was the stand-out performer, showing its highest rate of growth this year. Shoppers are increasingly taking advantage of the convenience that online shopping offers at every stage of the customer journey, from comparing prices to reserving and collecting in-store.”