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Clothing Sales Wilt During UK’s Second-Warmest September on Record

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Oxford St
More woes for Britain’s apparel retailers in September, as consumers responded to rising prices by buying even less.

Numbers released Thursday by the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that clothing stores suffered a 6.4% drop in sales volume last month versus a year ago and a 5.9% decline in the amount people spent, while prices crept up 0.4%.

In fact, clothing was a contributing factor to the rise in the country’s latest Consumer Price Index (CPI), where inflation now stands at the highest rate since November 2014.

“Average store prices are not the only factor that can impact upon sales of clothing; unseasonal weather can be another cause,” ONS said, noting that last month was the U.K.’s second-warmest September since 1910. “Feedback from retailers suggests the weakness in September 2016 could be due to the weather during the month impacting on clothing ranges, with consumers delaying purchases of clothing from autumn and winter ranges.”

That slip in apparel sales more than offset an increase in textile and footwear sales, which rose 7.5% and 1.9% respectively. As such, the clothing, textile and footwear sector recorded a 5.4% decrease year-on-year in volume.

Overall retail sales last month in the U.K. were unchanged from August, but up 4.1% compared with a year ago, with the largest contribution coming from non-store retailing (including e-commerce, mail order and catalogs). The amount spent online increased by 22 percent compared with September 2015 and by 2.8% compared with August.

Earlier this week, Kantar Worldpanel released a report revealing that the British fashion market lost almost 700 million pounds ($862 million) in the year ended Sept. 25, versus the previous year, as sales slumped to a seven-year low.

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