Fashion sales up in June, but rises are slowing
June saw Britons in an upbeat mood and this led to increased consumer spending at retail, two reports showed on Tuesday.
Spending on credit and debit cards rose as much as 11.1% compared to June 2019, Barclaycard said. Meanwhile sales rose by 13.1% on a two-year comparison and 10% month-on-month, according to the retail sales monitor from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG.
In fact, the BRC said growth continues to be driven by non-food goods, such as fashion, and on a three-month basis, overall non-food sales rose 12.4%.
But now that more normal life is returning, different sectors are fighting for their share of consumer spend and this could hurt the fashion sector. Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG, said: “The fight for share of wallet is under way, as consumers unleash pent-up demand for social activities as restrictions continue to unwind.”
Barclaycard agreed that the warmer weather, the easing of restrictions and major sporting events saw more Britons spending as they socialised and set off on staycations. But while that would have necessitated new clothes for many, the finance giant also said that there were signs that pent-up demand is “easing off as clothing and furniture stores recorded smaller increases than in May”.
The Barclaycard report combines hundreds of millions of customer transactions with consumer research to provide an in-depth view of UK spending
It said face to face retail grew 9.7% last month overall, with uplifts across a range of categories including and sports & outdoor retailers with an increase 14.2%. But by the Barclaycard measure, clothing rose only 2.8% on a two-year comparison. It had been up 8.5% in May.
That said, the fact that consumers are now spending a lot more on holidays, days or evenings out and other leisure activities all suggests that the more ‘normal’ demand for fashion that’s seen during a regular year will still be there.
There was a certain air of confidence among consumers last month too with those aged 65 and over particularly driving higher leisure spend.
But there are some dark clouds on the horizon. One is fear over the fast growth of Covid cases in the UK. Consumers are becoming increasingly nervous about the high rate of cases and this could dent spending this summer. Vaccinations may have weakened the link between Covid and hospitalisations/deaths, but it hasn’t broken it altogether. And while July 19 has now been confirmed as Freedom Day when all legal restrictions will end, Government rhetoric hints that further restrictions haven’t been ruled out.
Another issue is that 64% of Britons feel the prices of everyday items are higher than they used to be – perhaps due to the recent rise in inflation or a shift in the perception of the cost of living as we transition back to normality after months of restrictions. That could mean a greater focus on essentials and less discretionary spend, which would impact the fashion and beauty sectors.
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