Consumer concerns dent November fashion spend, despite the need for cold-weather clothes
UK consumer spending rose last month, but it didn’t manage to keep up with inflation so represented a drop in real terms, two key monthly surveys showed on Tuesday.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said total sales rose 4.2%, compared to November 2021, which was better than the 1.6% increase in October. However, as mentioned, almost-double-digit inflation meant that volumes overall fell.
The BRC said that sales of winter clothes were boosted as colder weather set in and home furnishings were also stronger for Black Friday.
Meanwhile, Barclaycard said that consumer spending on debit or credit cards was up 3.9% year-on-year, which again was higher than the October figure ( +3.5%).
Discount stores were among the winners as shoppers, looked for products at bargain prices with the category seeing its highest rise — at 5% — since April 2021, when it was a massive +23.6%.
But overall, consumers were heavily focused on essentials with the rise in spending on essential items being 7.1%.
In a consumer survey connected to the report, it was also revealed that people have been shopping earlier for Christmas on worries that certain items will be hard to get hold of, and also that consumers are very worried about overall higher prices. For instance, as many as 68% are finding ways to save energy at home with 72% wearing extra clothing, such as sweaters and dressing gowns to keep warm.
It all meant that spending on non-essential items grew at a weak rate, and despite the need to buy clothing as the temperatures dropped, the category overall fell 3%. Department store spending also dropped 1.5%.
And while separate data from Barclaycard Payments showed that transaction volumes on Black Friday were up this year compared to 2021, this growth may not carry over into the festive season. One in two Britons plans to cut down on Christmas purchases this year, with 57% of these looking to reduce spending on gifts for family and friends and 45% scaling back on festive parties and socialising.
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