French clothing sales fell 3.7 percent in the first half of 2012 as freak weather and a flat economy wreaked havoc with buying intentions, according to the most recent data published by the French Women’s Ready-to-Wear Federation. Sales of women’s rtw were worst hit, falling 5.8 percent, while sales of men’s rtw declined by 2.5 percent and children’s rtw by 2 percent.

This story first appeared in the September 19, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Accessories continued to buck the trend, registering a 5.5 percent rise, though sales of shoes fell 1 percent during the period.

French consumers were particularly cautious heading into presidential and parliamentary elections in May and June, with the prospect of further austerity measures prompting many to tighten their purse strings. This was reflected in the growing proportion of purchases made during sales and promotional events: 39.7 percent versus 36.7 percent in the first half of 2011.

The outlook for the second half is not much brighter. Provisional data released by the French Fashion Institute showed clothing sales fell 6 percent in August after remaining broadly flat in June and July.