Cold weather in November boosts UK sales of winter clothes

UK winter weather

UK retail sales figures were 2% higher year-on-year for November this year, as the colder weather resulted in an increase in sales of warm clothes, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed on Thursday.

Data from the ONS Statistical bulletin: Retail Sales for November 2013 indicates that the retail industry continues to show strong growth. However growth in the quantity purchased in clothing stores was negated by a drop in the quantity sold at department stores and petrol stations. This resulted in subdued growth of 0.3% compared to the previous month.

Figures for the three month on three month movement remain flat due to a reduction in sales in food stores and petrol stations, which offset growth in non-food stores and non-store retailing.

Non-seasonally adjusted data shows that the amount spent in the retail industry during November this year rose by 2.7% compared with November 2012 and by 0.2% compared with October 2013. The average weekly spend in the retail industry in November 2013 was GBP7.6bn, compared with GBP7.3bn in November last year. The proportion of online sales grew by 1.4 percentage points to a record 11.9% of all retail sales, excluding automotive fuel.

ONS noted that online spend at department stores was estimated at a record 11.4%. These figures reflected feedback from retailers that said investment in Internet sites has helped sales; however this has resulted in a detraction of in store sales. Small stores were shown to have achieved further growth year-on-year compared to large stores, with the amount being spent in small stores up 4.5% in comparison to 2.9% in large stores.

According to the BBC, economic experts are of the opinion that the ONS statistics are in line with expectations. David Tinsley, UK economist at BNP Paribas, was quoted as saying: “Over the fourth quarter as a whole the pace of retail sales has dipped, but this may reflect a pause rather than a downtrend. A softer retail picture may help assuage some fears that growth is currently just being driven by consumer spending.”

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