Clothing and footwear sales rose 1.5% in November ahead of the retail sector as a whole, according to official data.
Total retail sales fell by volume and value during the month, the Office for National Statistics found. Sales slipped 0.2% by value month-on-month, and 0.3% by volume. However sales were up 2.7% by value year-on-year and ahead 3.1% by volume.
The value of sales at non-food stores rose 1.1% at predominantly non-food shops. Non-specialised stores were ahead by 3.1%. However the “other stores” category was down 1.9%.
Non-store retailing – which includes online sales – was up 9.9%.
Deloitte head of retail consulting Ian Geddes said: “Today’s figures show that whilst consumer spending has been resilient in 2009, confidence remains fragile. Consumers recognise that 2010 will bring a number of challenges for their personal finances, starting with the VAT increase on January 1. These challenges will undoubtedly influence their purchasing habits and lead to continued weakness in consumer spending growth.”
Barclays head of retail and wholesale Richard Lowe, said: “The figures are surprising considering general expectations of rises in sales figures over the past month coupled with innovative strategies being adopted by retailers this Christmas season.
“The mild and wet weather in November seemed to dampen demand for winter clothing, although retailers of household goods continued to benefit from a growing appetite for big ticket items, ahead of the increase in VAT.
“More contemporary survey evidence suggests that sales have improved in December, although it remains to be seen to what extent the prospect of a rise in VAT on January 1 has displaced demand for big ticket items from future periods.”