20 Jun 2019

Retailers hoping sunnier days are on the horizon

Poor weather attributed to continued decline in clothing sales on the High Street

The key findings from the Office for National Statistics showed:

  • In the three months to May 2019, the quantity bought in retail sales increased by 1.6% when compared with the previous three months, with growth across all stores except department stores and household goods stores.
  • The fall of 0.9% in the quantity bought in department stores in the three months to May 2019 was the eighth consecutive month of no positive growth in this sector.
  • The quantity bought in May 2019 decreased by 0.5% when compared with the previous month, with a strong decline of 4.5% in clothing sales.
  • The year-on-year growth rate in the average store price for clothing fell for the ninth consecutive month in May 2019 but evidence from retailers suggested that the poor weather may have delayed the sales for summer ranges.
  • In May 2019, online retailing accounted for 19.3% of total retailing, with an overall growth of 8.2% when compared with the same month a year earlier.

Phil Mullis, Partner and Head of Retail and Wholesale at leading accountancy firm, Wilkins Kennedy, said: “We have had three months of growth in retail sales apart from in department and household goods stores when potentially people were stockpiling for Brexit which was then delayed until October.

“In May 2018, we had a royal wedding which was a big deal for High Street retailers and we had a good spell of warm weather – and that hasn’t been the case this year. Clothing retailers continue to find it tough since consumers are seemingly holding off replenishing their summer wardrobes.

“Retailers need to understand what people are willing to spend their money on to see their sales flourish and a recent report showed under-30s are spending seven per cent less on non-household items than the same age group in 2001 but the over-65s are spending more.

“It seems millennials want to spend their hard-earned cash on experiences and they are also conscious of the environment and want to buy products which are sustainable.

“It is a concern we are continuing to see well-known High Street stores struggling with Boots announcing they are closing 200 stores and the Bathstore reportedly set to appoint administrators.

“All this shows that it is still a very difficult environment for UK retailers. We will have to hope that the sun does come out soon to help shift summer clothing ranges and encourage people to spend a little bit more.”

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