UK retail stronger in sunny June, but fashion struggles, except online

UK consumer spending rose over 5% last month as World Cup fever took hold and coincided with an unprecedented heatwave in Britain. But while that boosted certain categories, the fashion sector as a whole didn't really benefit even though menswear was strong.

Sunshine didn't help UK retail last month

Barclaycard’s Regular monthly report on Tuesday showed that consumer spending was up 5.1% year-on-year, maintaining the high level seen in May. And non-essential expenditure reached 5.5% growth – the best performance since October 2016.

But don't run away with the idea that fashion was a beneficiary of this. It was entertainment that saw the largest increase since last summer, with pub spending scoring a 33% rise on the day of England’s debut match in the World Cup. Cinemas and restaurants also scored big gains.

And what of the clothing sector and the stores that really matter to it? Department stores fell by 3.2% as far as their physical store sales were concerned, although a 9% online boost helped them to ‘only’ a 0.5% fall in total. And clothing sales in all store types fell 5.7% in-store but rose 10.3% online so fell only 0.4% overall. 

Menswear was the strongest category with its overall 4.5% rise made up of a 2.6% increase in-store and an 8.1% rise online, But shoe shops fell 4.5% in total due to an 8.9% plunge in-store partly balanced by an 8% online rise. Womenswear was down 2.8% having risen only 1.9% online but falling 5.6% in-store.

That said, the average transaction value for clothing was up 0.6% despite an overall 1% drop in transaction numbers, while clothing accounted for a 36.6% share of the online spend.

Sports shops were down 1.9% in total while cosmetics stores rose a healthy 6.8% as they were boosted 11.1% online and 2.5% in-store.

This year's unseasonably warm weather – which continued with heatwaves at the start and end of June – proved positive for garden centres, which saw a rise of 10.5% last month. What’s more, of the one in three Britons who have spent more than normal so far this summer, 28% said it’s because they were planning more activities to make the most of the hot weather.

Overall the sunshine seems to have prompted consumers to become more optimistic as 65% now feel confident in their household finances – the highest proportion in 12 months. But 42% say they will hold off on buying big-ticket items until the economy seems more settled.

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