Country Road has said that it expects difficult trading conditions this Christmas after seeing its sales for the first quarter take a slide.

The fashion retailer reported that for the first four months into the 2012 financial year, comparable sales are down 4.9 per cent against the corresponding period last year.

On the other hand, in South Africa, its brands continue to trade well with comparable sales for that period up 9.1 per cent and total South African sales up 13.5 per cent. But total sales for the period were down 0.7 per cent.

“The retail outlook remains challenging and our expectations on sales remain conservative,” Howard Goldberg, chief executive, said.

“Country Road will continue its disciplined approach and focus on creating and delivering uniquely fashionable quality products at great value in world class retail environment,”