Mixed messages for fashion and textiles manufacturers in February

Following a good start to the new year with strong figures reported in January, the latest monthly figures released by the Office for National Statistics on Friday reported a fall in overall UK manufacuring output falling by 1.1% during February 2016.  At the same time, the trade deficit also widened with a 1.3% fall in exports with imports rising by 1.1%.

Given this, how closely did UK fashion and textiles manufacturing follow these trends? Starting with productivity, fashion and textiles manufacturing suffered a large fall in February 2016, falling by 6.4% on Janurary’s figures where a 1.6% rise had been recorded.  Indeed, the index currently stands at 85.1 compared to 2012 from where the 100 average is taken from.  However, it remains higher than the previous low recorded in August 2015.

Figure 1: Output of the Productive Industies  (Chained Volume Indices. Seasonally Adjusted 2012= 100)

Productivity Feb 2016Source: Office for National Statistics

Looking at trade, the sector however shows a much better picture.  Exports of selected fashion and textiles goods reached £878 million, an increase of 5.5% on January 2016’s numbers and 7.7% on a year ago supporting the increasing employment numbers that have been reported within the sector in recent years.

By contrast, imports were down 0.7% in the month although remaining up 7.7% on February 2015.  This figure tallies with the reported increase in UK consumer spending on fashion and textiles goods during 2015 and indicates many areas of the supply chain are being kept active by both domestic and overseas consumer spending.

Figure 2: Imports and exports of selected fashion and textiles goods

Export value Feb 2016Source: HMRC (Based on SITC 61, 65, 84 & 85)


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