Stores did better than e-tail in March, clothing spend rose - GlobalData report

A new UK spending survey of 2,000 consumers for March showed physical stores performing better than online last month, although 2019 continues to be a challenging year for retailers as March’s total retail spending index declined, falling 3.6ppts versus February.


Fashion sales benefited from replacement purchases last month


In fact, spending dropped to levels seen in the summer of 2018 when consumers were distracted by warm weather and sporting events, according to research specialist GlobalData.

It said that retail spending was still being affected by “poor consumer confidence, with continued Brexit uncertainty being the main culprit.”

Its latest Retail Trend Tracker: UK Consumer Spend said the late Easter likely dampened retail spending in March, as consumers were able to wait until April to buy many Easter-specific items. But March was bolstered by consumers purchasing items for Mother’s Day.

While much of the Easter and Mother’s day spend has been about items like flowers and foods, GlobalData also said that March saw increased spend on fashion. Both clothing and footwear benefited and analyst Emily salter said that this “was driven primarily by replacement purchases” rather than the new season splurge that would normally have been expected last month.

She added that “the warm weather in February meant that consumers would have brought forward new season spending, diluting demand in March – despite retailers’ best efforts to persuade shoppers with mid-season discounts.”

GlobalData also said that physical stores held up better than the online channel in March, with consumers purchasing last-minute items for Mother’s Day in stores.

While Easter should boost April and while the current warm weather could further spur spring and summer fashion buys, leisure spending might be more of a priority than product purchases. And Salter said that “consumer sentiment remains highly negative despite a slight rise in March, versus February.”

She thinks the potential extension of the Brexit deadline to 31 October is “likely to constrain consumer spending on non-essential goods throughout the period, in particular due to concerns surrounding inflation.”

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