December fashion spend rose, but less than hoped for say key retail reports
Consumer spending on essential items grew in December by as much as 13.7% on a two-year basis, but clothing saw slower growth and department stores also lagged compared to supermarkets and discounters, the regular monthly report from Barclaycard showed on Tuesday.
The credit and debit cards giant said that consumer card spending grew 12.2% overall last month, but the impact of Omicron hindered some final Christmas preparations.
Spending on non-essential items grew at a slower 11.5% compared to November’s 18.3% spurt. The company said that as well as concerns over Omicron, this could have been due to consumers starting their festive shopping earlier in November.
Clothing saw noticeably smaller growth at 8.8% in spend during December compared to a 13.4% rise in November as cancelled Christmas parties and social events meant an expected partywear boom didn't quite materialise. This also seem to affect department stores, which are still lagging compared to 2019 with a 7.1% decline this time.
Despite the higher clothing spend, actual clothing transactions fell by 1.7%. And department store transactions were down 11.1%.
Categories such as pharmacy, healthy & beauty fared better with a 12.3% spending rise and a 4.2% transaction rise. And sports & outdoor retailers saw spending up 22% and transactions 10% higher. Discount stores also did well with spend that was 23.7% higher and transactions up 10.1%.
Meanwhile, the monthly retail report from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG said total retail sales rose 2.1% last month year-on-year and 4.6% compared to 2019.
Sales of clothing and jewellery were key categories during December, as would be expected, but echoing Barclaycard, it said sales of loungewear spiked and formalwear dipped as work-from-home advice and the cancellation of Christmas events changed shopping habits.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Retail faces significant headwinds in 2022, as consumer spending is held back by rising inflation, increasing energy bills, and April’s national insurance hike. It will take continued agility and resilience if they are to battle the storm ahead, while also tackling issues from labour shortages to rising transport and logistics costs.”
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