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July’s rain dampens consumer demand for clothing

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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London shopping street in the rain Credits: Photo by M Izraeli via Pexels

The wet weather in July has impacted retail sales across the UK in the four weeks from July 2 to 29, particularly non-food sales, including clothing, according to the latest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG's Retail Sales Monitor.

The data reveals that the value of retail sales was 1.5 percent in July against a growth of 2.3 percent in July 2022. This is below the three-month average growth of 3.5 percent and the 12-month average growth of 3.9 percent.

UK like-for-like retail sales increased by 1.8 percent in July against growth of 1.6 percent in July 2022. While non-food sales fell by 0.5 percent on a total basis and 0.8 percent on a like-for-like basis over the three months to July. That is below the 12-month total average growth of 0.6 percent and for the month of July, non-food sales were also in decline year-on-year.

The proportion of non-food items bought online (penetration rate) also decreased to 34.7 percent in July from 35.3 percent in July 2022.

Wet weather and inflation hit July UK retail sales

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said in a statement: “As the storm clouds came out, shoppers retreated, with like-for-like sales growth a dismal 1.5 percent up in July. Furniture and food and drink were the best sellers, whilst the wet weather meant no need to restock summer wardrobes, with all categories of clothing falling into negative sales territory, in what is usually a busy month for clothing retailers. Online sales continued to slide, falling nearly 7 percent year-on-year, with just a handful of categories such as furniture, health and beauty performing well.

“We are starting to see a big rise in the number of promotions that retailers are putting in place in order to get shoppers through the door, as they battle to keep market share.Price-conscious consumers are shopping more carefully, more aware of where bargains can be found and what they are getting for their money – which is biting hard into retail margins and profitability. UK consumers have been hugely resilient throughout the cost-of-living crisis, but stubbornly high inflation coupled with rapidly rising interest rates will test their ability and willingness to keep on spending for the rest of this year. Both consumers and retailers are finding that they are having to get used to doing more with less as conditions remain incredibly challenging."

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, added: “The slowing pace of retail price inflation fed through into slower sales this July. Spend was further depressed by the damp weather, which did no favours to sales of clothing, and other seasonal goods. Online spending was down again year on year as the post covid trend back to stores continued, leading to the lowest proportion of non-food sales online since the pandemic began.

“While consumer confidence is generally improving, it remains below longer-term levels. And with last week’s rise in interest rates pushing mortgage rates up ever higher, the Government must get a handle on the economy, offering a solution to languishing GDP growth in a way that supports both households and businesses. Only by creating the economic conditions for future growth, will we see a meaningful improvement in the outlook.”

British Retail Consortium
Retail Sales