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UK fashion sales dive in November

By Huw Hughes

Dec 18, 2020

Retail

The UK saw a sharp fall in the sales volume of clothing in November compared to the month before, as lockdowns across the four nations hindered retailers' hopes for a pre-Christmas sales rebound.

Clothing retailers were the worst-hit category, with a monthly fall of 19 percent, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Those retailers commented that despite extensive online Black Friday promotions, the closure of non-essential had dragged down sales.

The sector is still struggling to recover from the initial drop in sales experienced immediately after the first set of national lockdown measures, and remains 30.5 percent below February’s level.

Overall, retail sales volumes decreased by 3.8 percent in November compared to October, though they still remained above pre-pandemic levels. The year-on-year growth rate in the volume of retail sales increased by 2.4 percent, with feedback from businesses suggesting that consumers had brought forward Christmas spending.

Online retailing accounted for 31.4 percent of total retailing compared with 28.6 percent in October 2020, with an overall growth of 74.7 percent in the value of sales when compared with November 2019.

Responding to the figures in a statement, Helen Dickinson, the CEO of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “Retail sales growth slowed slightly, as many shops in England were forced to close during the November lockdown. Clothing, footwear and bookshops were all particularly badly affected by the forced closure over the month, including Black Friday, and saw sales drop significantly.

“On the other hand, higher sales from retailers who remained open, bolstered by stronger online and click-and-collect operations, kept growth positive overall in the run-up to Christmas.

“This headline growth figure masks significant challenges for many businesses on high streets across the country, as sales have plummeted and they face the threat of rising costs which they cannot afford. The Government should look to support these businesses through a targeted extension to coronavirus business rates relief or we will see further unnecessary store closures and job losses.”

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