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Fashion sales outperform in December, says ONS

Clothing, textiles and footwear were the strongest performers in December in a month where total sales volumes failed to impress.

According to the Office for National Statistics, total retail sales rose 2.1% by volume year-on-year in December, less than the 3% rise anticipated. Month-on-month total sales volumes rose 0.3% compared to November, with non-food growing 0.1%.

Retail sales by value for December were 3.6% higher than December 2008, and for the three months to December 31 were 3% higher year-on-year.

Clothing, textile and footwear experienced the biggest rise during December, notching up growth of 4.7% by volume in the month, predominantly driven by clothing. Non-store retailing, which includes online, grew 9.4% in the period.

In the three month period total sales volumes increased 0.7% compared to the previous three months. Year-on-year, sales volume rose 2.7% in the three month period, with non-food increasing 2.5%, with the largest rise again coming from clothing, which jumped 7%.

Barclays head of retail and wholesale Richard Lowe said: “Although these figures came in lower than expectations, the general feeling is that 2009 ended on a relatively high note for retailers. Christmas trading proved positive as consumers upped their purchasing, releasing some of the pent-up demand in the market. The majority of trading updates at the end of 2009 were also positive, offering some cheer to the sector as the year ended.  

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