Clothes shops report poor sales performance


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Clothes stores reported their worst performance for nearly three years this month despite signs of better trading for other retailers.

A balance of 2% of firms reported that volumes were lower than the previous year, according to the CBI, which was much better than the 22% fall in January when retailers suffered a New Year hangover. The City had expected a 10% fall.

But gains were mainly felt by grocers and internet retailers, while clothes stores suffered their worst performance since March 2009 and shoppers continued to avoid big-ticket purchases such as homewares.

Retailers do not expect the improvement to last, with sentiment about the next three months negative for the fifth quarter in a row, and investment plans at their weakest for three years.

But there was some good news for consumers, as shop price inflation was at its lowest for more than a year.

Judith McKenna, chair of the CBI distributive trades panel and Asda's chief operating officer, said: "It's good to see there are more positive signs on our high streets.

"But consumers are clearly continuing to focus their spending on day-to-day needs, rather than big-ticket or luxury items.

"With disposable incomes under constant pressure, retailers remain concerned about the general business outlook for the rest of 2012."