Jul 14, 2020
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Fashion's crisis far from over despite wider sales rise say Barclaycard, BRC

Jul 14, 2020

The latest Barclaycard UK consumer spending report may show some encouraging signs for retail overall, but there’s little good news in there for the fashion sector.

Fashion didn't fare too well last month as UK stores reopened

June was a month in which UK consumer spending fell only 14.5% year on year (the smallest fall since the start of the lockdown) and month on month spending even rose for many categories. The figures are based on actual card spending and other estimates.

But the bad news was that clothing spend was down 28.3% year on year and transaction levels fell 33.2%. Additionally, department stores saw their sales down 32.1% and transaction levels down 42.8%. Meanwhile pharmacy, health & beauty retailers were down 33% in terms of overall spend and 34.8% as far as transaction levels were concerned.

Discount stores did better with a 30.6% spending rise despite a 2.8% drop in transactions, while sports and outdoor retailers’ spending was up 10.5% even though transactions were down 17%. Meanwhile online spend rose 7.6% but individual shoppers seemed to be spending smaller amounts as overall transaction numbers were up a hefty 29.9%.

Barclaycard also said there were signs that the high street’s recovery may be a long one as over half (56%) of consumers continue to avoid the shops. Some 31% of Britons admit to delaying shopping because they’re afraid of getting or spreading coronavirus, while 18% say they’re put off by crowds. But new social distancing rules are providing some reassurance, with 18% more likely to return to shops because of these precautions.

Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium/KPMG monthly figures showed “signs of growth” from the retailers that it tracks, but the BRC said “the crisis is far from over”.

On a total basis, sales increased by 3.4% in June, against a decrease of 1.6% in June 2019. This was the first growth registered since the lockdown and above the three-month average decline of 6.4% and the 12-month average decline of 2.1%. 

UK retail sales rose 10.9% on a like-for-like basis compared to June 2019, when they had decreased 2.2%, although like-for-likes this time have been measured excluding temporarily closed stores but including online sales so the comparison isn’t a direct one.

And Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, said: “June saw pent-up consumer demand released, with total sales finally back in positive territory. 

“[But] fashion sales haven’t rebounded quite as impressively, despite reports of increased interest from those prepared to queue to enter stores. Online sales – while still in a high gear – are cooling a little as high street activity picks up again slowly and cautiously. That said, whether consumers will forego the convenience of online shopping now that they’ve become accustomed to it, remains a fundamental question for the future.” 

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