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UK Retail Sales Spike in May as Clothing Recovers From Wet April

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UK retail sales in May 2024 surged with clothing the beneficiary of an uplift thanks to better weather following a wet April.

Non-food stores sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household, and other non-food stores) rose by 3.5% in May 2024
Non-food stores sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household, and other non-food stores) rose by 3.5% in May 2024 Credit: Shutterstock.

The Office of National Statistics most recent data into UK retail in May reveals sales volumes rose across most sectors, with clothing retailers and furniture stores rebounding following poor weather in April.

Overall retail sales volumes (quantity bought) rose by 2.9% in May 2024, following a fall of 1.8% in April 2024 (revised from a fall of 2.3%).

More broadly, sales volumes rose by 1.0% in the three months to May 2024 when compared with the previous three months. However, they fell by 0.2% when compared with the three months to May 2023.

Non-food stores sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) rose by 3.5% in May 2024.

This was the largest monthly rise since April 2021, and follows a fall of 3.0% in April 2024. Within non-food stores, there was strong monthly growth for clothing and footwear retailers, furniture stores, and sports equipment, games and toys stores. These retailers reported improved footfall, better weather, and the impact of promotions.

Non-store retailers, which are predominantly online retailers, rose by 5.9% on the month. This was the largest monthly increase and index level since April 2022.

Commodity breakdown data indicated that the increase in May 2024 was because of strong clothing and other non-food sales.

Commenting, Kris Hamer, Director of Insight at the British Retail Consortium, said: “The record warmth of May led to a small recovery in retail sales for the month. Larger retailers outperformed small retailers, with clothing and footwear particularly benefitting from the change in temperatures.

“Nonetheless, sales volumes still remain below their 2021 levels. Retailers hope that the recent start of Euro 2024 should further improve spending in snacks, alcohol, and TVs for June’s figures – and if England can win their final game and move forward to Round of 16 , it might give consumer confidence the boost it needs.

“With the election less than two weeks away, retailers look forward to working with the next government to understand how they can support an industry that unlocks over £460bn in consumer spending a year. Including the retail supply chain, the industry supports jobs for almost 20% of the workforce, meaning that improving consumer confidence and unlocking consumer spending is vital for jobs and investment right across the UK.”

While Silvia Rindone, EY UK&I Retail Lead added: “Although macroeconomic indicators, including interest rates, inflation, and wages are improving, it seems consumers are biding their time, waiting for a more optimistic climate before loosening their purse strings.

“As we move into the latter half of 2024, there is a sense that the tide may turn. A summer packed with high-profile sporting events such as UEFA Euro 2024 and the Paris Olympics, coupled with better weather and the possibility of political changes, could well be the catalyst for a resurgence in consumer confidence.

“While these upcoming events are beyond retailers’ control, they present a golden opportunity to drive sales. As the public mood brightens, savvy retailers should be ready to revisit their pricing and promotional strategies to fully leverage the wave of enthusiasm.”

Charlie Huggins, manager of the Quality Shares Portfolio at Wealth Club, agreed, adding: “Following April’s weakness, retailers up and down the country will be breathing a sigh of relief. There is nothing in May’s retail figures to suggest consumers are cutting back. In fact, one could even go as far to say that the consumer is in fine health.”

Source from Just Style

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