Clothing spend falls again in October, department stores also struggle
As local lockdowns and other restrictive measures kicked in last month, UK consumer spending declined 0.1% year-on-year, the widely watched Barclaycard consumer spending survey revealed on Tuesday.
The decline also coincided with the arrival of colder weather that could have been a further encouragement to shoppers to stay at home and go online rather than into shops.
That said, spending on essential items rose 4.2% as spending in supermarkets stayed robust and online supermarket spend nearly doubled year on year. That happened as a third of consumers said they were stockpiling.
But it was all bad news for fashion as clothing spend fell 2.7%, even though online fashion shopping rose as much as 20.6%. The number of transactions for the clothing sector also fell by 8.5%, a further sign of the trend that has been seen this year whereby those who do spend seem quite committed and are increasing their outlay overall.
Spending at department stores contracted by 9.9%, wider than the smaller 0.2% decline seen in September, and the number of transactions through this channel was down a hefty 14.1%.
Barclaycard also said that lockdown restrictions were impacting consumer optimism last month with household confidence dropping to 67%, a level not seen since May when the earlier lockdown was at its height. The figure in September had been 70%.
There was a little bit of good news as early Christmas shoppers sent spending at general retailers and catalogues up 50% in October. Meanwhile, pharmacy, health & beauty saw spending rise 7.3% even though transaction numbers fell 4.3%. And sports & outdoor spending rose 20.2%, while the money that changed hands at discount stores was up a huge 30.7%.
Raheel Ahmed, Head of Consumer Products, said: “As the country prepares for a winter under potentially tighter restrictions, and we turn to online for our Christmas shopping, the resilience of bricks-and-mortar retailers will be tested as we wait to see what the rest of the year brings.”
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