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Consumer spending improves in May as Brits buy post-lockdown clothing

By Huw Hughes

9 Jun 2021

Consumer spending in the UK increased by 7.6 percent in May compared to the same period in 2019 as shoppers headed back to physical stores following the further easing of lockdown restrictions, new data reveals.

Even record rain in May wasn’t enough to deter consumers from returning to stores, with overall spending on non-essential items up 5.8 percent compared to the same period in 2019, and face-to-face spending at non-essential retailers up 8 percent.

That’s according to the latest data from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions.

Fashion and beauty sales improve in May

Shoppers looked to update their wardrobes in preparation for post-lockdown socialising, with clothing sales up 8.5 percent and department store sales up 8.6 percent.

In-store clothes shopping was still down on the same period in 2019 at -6.1 percent, but that was significantly smaller than the -46.9 percent decline last month.

Brits were also spending more on beauty products and treatments, with pharmacy, health and beauty stores (including nail salons and hairdressers) seeing a 17.8 percent rise - a significant improvement on the growth of 3.7 percent recorded last month.

Spending at sports and outdoor retailers also showed strong growth as consumers embraced more active lifestyles in May, with a 47 percent increase in the category versus 26.2 percent growth last month.