Fashion struggles as Britons cut back on shopping says Visa

More gloomy news just at the time retailers would normally be looking forward to the year’s biggest shopping frenzy.

The latest monthly Visa survey showed that British shoppers cut back on their spending more than they have done for four years last month. And what did they cut back on most? Yes, fashion. In a report that makes grim reading, the stats for clothing and footwear were the grimmest of all with a 9% year-on-year fall.


Stores have already started discounting after a disastrous October for fashion sales


The report was released on the same day as Springboard unveiled its footfall figures and while a footfall drop last month could have been put down to a shift to online spending, with Visa’s figures tracking actual transactions, they make for a depressing outlook.

Overall, consumer spending adjusted for inflation and seasonal effects dropped 2%, Visa said, using figures from its debit and credit card transactions. It was the fifth fall in a six-month period and October spending also fell 0.9% compared to September.

The question is, why did it happen? We know inflation is rising, which puts a strain on consumers given wage stagnation. We also know there’s generally plenty of political and economic uncertainty, and that wages are likely to rise by a tiny percentage even though prices are continuing to increase. And we know that the weather acted as a shopping suppressor when it came to fashion as it simply wasn’t cold and wet enough for much of October for shoppers to feel motivated to buy seasonal fashion goods.

What we don’t know is whether this will continue or whether, more hopefully, consumers may have been hanging onto their cash with the intention to splurge for Christmas. 

There’s not a lot of snow or rain forecast for the rest of this month (and the sun is streaming in as I write this news story) but the weather has certainly turned colder so that could spur higher fashion sales, especially as many stores have resorted to markdowns already.

Official October retail sales data from the Office for National Statistics comes out this Thursday and analysts are predicting the worst fall in four-and-a-half years. Whether November is as bad will become clearer soon.

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