Clothing sales dropped by 36% in September compared to the same time last year as shoppers clamp down on “discretionary spending”.
The CBI said 39% of retailers reported a poorer month than a year ago while overall sales volumes were down 15% from the September 2010 figure, despite 24% of retailers reporting an uplift.
The CBI said that there was some reassurance from the fact that sales volume decline appears to have stabilised. In August volumes were down 14% year on year.
CBI Distributive Trades Panel chair and Asda chief operating officer Judith McKenna said: “Shoppers are still clamping down on discretionary spending and focused on buying the basics at the best price.
“With the consumer squeeze set to get tighter with the winter utility bills rise, we expect retailers will face a challenging October.”
Department stores also took a big hit in volumes, which fell by 46%.
The CBI is also predicting the stability to continue, forecasting a figure of 14% decline to be repeated next month.