UK consumers reined-in retail spending last month says ONS, fashion down too
It had to happen at some point. Despite overall sluggish retail sales, clothing has been relatively strong this year. But the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures in the UK showed that June was a weak month for the fashion sector, as well as for retailers overall.
Looking at the headline figures first, retail sales volumes fell by 0.1% month-on-month in June following a fall of 0.8% in May. They also fell 5.8% year-on-year, although sales volumes were 2.2% above their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.
Retail sales values were up 1.3% on the month and 4.4% on the year — but inflation would have been the driving factor here. That could also be seen from the fact that retail sales values were up 14.4% against February 2020. Inflation has been accelerating all year and is currently just short of double-digits.
Non-food stores’ sales volumes fell by 0.7% over the month because of falls in clothing stores (which were down 4.7%) and at household goods retailers (down 3.7%), such as furniture stores. But they remain 1.4% higher than in February 2020. Some retailers suggested that the rail strikes at the end of June may have hurt their sales and there's no arguing with that view given that the number of people travelling into city centres was very low on those days.
The ONS also said department store sales volumes fell by 0.6% on the previous month and were 5.3% below their February 2020 levels.
Non-store (predominantly online retailers) sales volumes fell by 3.7% but were 20.8% above their February 2020 levels. And the proportion of retail sales online fell to 25.3% in June, its lowest since March 2020 (22.8%), continuing a broad downward trend since its 37.4% peak in February 2021.
Online sales for department stores fell 8.7% year-on-year, and online sales for textile-clothing and footwear stores were down 4.8%.
Silvia Rindone, UK & Ireland Retail Lead at advisory service EY, told Fashionnetwork.com: “Despite the long Jubilee bank holiday weekend at the start of June, today’s ONS retail sales data shows that consumers are feeling the pinch from the rising cost-of-living and are becoming more cautious about where and when they are spending. A fall in consumer confidence is now having a clear impact on retailers’ bottom lines.”
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