UK spending rises but doesn't help fashion

There was little good news for the fashion sector in two UK retail reports that came out on Tuesday. Consumers were clearly prioritising eating and drinking out, rather than buying fashion, last month and they don't seem to be too inclined to change their habits in September.


UK consumers weren't fired up by the fashion on offer last month


The British Retail Consortium said that overall retail sales rose 1.3% year-on-year in late July through to August, driven by consumers making the most of the summer as goods other than food came low down on the priority list.

Meanwhile, Barclaycard’s regular monthly report said that consumer spending rose 4.5% last month, but that was largely because essentials spending rose nearly 7%. Spending in supermarkets and petrol stations were key here but entertainment spending also rose in double-digits as pubs and cinemas enjoyed a mini boom.

And clothing? As consumers put off buying new autumn wardrobes due to a warm August, clothing expenditure saw just 0.6% growth, with women’s and men’s clothing sales contracting slightly at -0.9% and -0.3% respectively. Although Barclaycard didn't go into details, we have to assume that much of the spend was therefore on kidswear and was all about the back-to-school season.

Online sales continued to make a dent in traditional retailers’ turnover and total in-store sales of non-food items fell by the highest amount since records for this category began in January 2012. Sales were down by 2.2% on the year.

And given that 34% of consumers say that they’re now planning to reduce their spending after making the most of an unusually hot summer, there's not a lot of promise ahead.

Barclaycard said that a degree of uncertainty about the future is likely to be driving this caution with 58% of Britons worried that rising inflation will leave them with less money to spend each month, while 56% are concerned that rising energy prices will leave them worse off.

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