September fashion spend was weak, but back-to-school helped say Barclaycard, BRC
The UK’s consumer card spending grew 1.8% year on year in September – the smallest rise since February 2021, and lagging the 9.9% rise in consumer price inflation, data from Barclaycard showed on Tuesday.
That came as Britons cut back on discretionary purchases in the face of rampant price rises for essentials such as food, housing, electricity and petrol.
That said, even spending on essential items (+3.3%) saw its smallest rise this year, as consumers also cut back on the necessities where they could.
Nine in 10 consumers are concerned about household bills, with average spending on utilities up 48% year-on-year – higher than July and August.
So it’s no surprise that clothing spend saw further declines and consumers ate out less too, suggesting their need to buy new clothes for socialising is also reducing. Clothing retailer spend was down 4.1%, worse than August’s 1.9% drop.
The data is pretty reliable as Barclaycard processes nearly half of the UK’s credit and debit card transactions.
Some 67% of consumers say they’re looking for ways to reduce the cost of their weekly shop. And 43% are paying closer attention to the prices of items they buy regularly, while 40% are cutting down on luxuries or one-off treats for themselves.
Meanwhile a report from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG showed a similar picture as it said the value of retail sales rose 2.2% last month, but volumes continued to fall. Yet it differed in some respects because it said that clothing spend held up and “once again, clothing and footwear came to the rescue of the high street”.
That wasn’t driven by ‘fashion’ as such but by one essential spending area — back-to-school products.
The BRC/KPMG citied it as “a driver in retail growth figures, with sales of children’s shoes up over 15%”.
And the report also said that households are preparing for higher energy bills by buying warm clothing to wear at home.
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