Consumer spending at department stores down for the 13th month in row

department store spending

Consumer spending at department stores across the UK has fallen for the 13th consecutive month, according to new data.

Barclaycard said spending in department stores during November fell by 7.1 per cent year-on-year, as the sector remains one of the hardest hit by the ongoing challenges plaguing the UK retail industry.

Profit warnings from the likes of Debenhams and John Lewis, major restructures, job cuts and store closure announcements from Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser and Debenhams, and weak financial performances across the board have all been brought about by sliding consumer confidence, declining footfall and rising uncertainty around Brexit.

“Department stores took a pummelling in November,” Laura Suter, a personal finance analyst at investment firm AJ Bell, told The Guardian.

“The problems faced by the likes of House of Fraser and Debenhams, and questions about the stores’ future, have likely put many off shopping with the brands.”

Department stores are not the ones struggling. Barclaycard’s monthly data showed that even discounters took a hit, with spending down by almost 17 per cent year-on-year.

However, overall consumer spending rose 3.3 per cent year-on-year in November, although this was lowest growth since March and comes on the back of a Black Friday sales bonanza.

The news comes after Sports Direct founder and now-owner of House of Fraser Mike Ashley blasted MPs on the lack of effort going onto the saving high street.

He told a panel of MPs on Tuesday that a 20 per cent retail tax was necessary on retailers that make more than a fifth of their sales online.

“It is not my fault the high street is dying. It’s not House of Fraser, not Marks & Spencer or Debenhams’ fault,” Ashley said.

“It is very simple why the high street is dying. It is the internet that is killing the high street.

“The vast majority of the high street has already died. In the bottom of the swimming pool, dead.”

In response to Ashley, a spokesperson said: “As the Chancellor made clear in the Budget, an online sales tax would be passed onto consumers.

“That’s why we’re putting £675 million into a Future High Streets Fund instead to help high streets to evolve.”

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