The recent unpredictable weather and uncertain political climate has put a dampener on fashion retail as Brits are reluctant to shop for the new season.
Clothing and footwear expenditure in March saw a 6.4% fall year-on-year according to the Office for National Statistics. While the volume of items purchased in this sector decreased by 6.2%.
The total spend across all retail sectors including food and household products dropped by 0.1% The quantity of goods sold grew by 2.7%, yet was still lower than analysts’ predictions of 4.4% However, online sales increased by 8.9% in March.
“Evidently, the early Easter weekend did not live up to analysts’ expectations for boosting March’s sales. Retail sales values fell in food, clothing and footwear segments, which is particularly unexpected considering the time of the year” said Ian Geddes, Head of Retail at Deloitte.
“We have reached a new milestone in online and digital sales, which have grown 8.9% compared to March 2015. One reason for this is simply down to the increase in smartphone and tablet ownership: 76% of UK consumers have access to a smartphone, and 60% to a tablet. The boost in online sales is an indication that retailers’ digital investment is starting to pay off.
Geddes added that the retail industry would have to be prepared for a slowed consumer confidence in the coming months as a result of the “economic and political uncertainty”.
“Retailers will now be hoping that those workers who receive a pay rise in April, thanks to the new national living wage, choose to spend it on the high street, instead of on leisure and entertainment, which have to date been the primary beneficiaries from increases in consumer spending power” added Keith Richardson, Managing Director for retail at Lloyds Bank.