Britain’s Retailers Report Sharp Drop in Spending in Colder June


British consumers reined in spending on clothing in June during a cold spell, another indication that poor weather has contributed to lacklustre economic growth.

Barclays Plc said that weaker retail sales drove a 0.6 percent year-on-year drop in card spending last month, the first decline since the depths of the Covid-19 lockdown in early 2021. Separate figures from the British Retail Consortium and and KPMG showed total retail sales fell 0.2 percent in June — a reversal of fortunes from an annual gain of 4.9 percent a year ago.

The figures point to another weak month for retail sales in official data that’s due out next week after the cold period in the first half of June. Retailers have sapped the economy’s momentum in the second quarter with the sector also holding back growth during a wetter-than-usual April.

More extreme weather due to climate change is creating larger swings in shopping figures, as Britons go from splurging to restraint in colder months.

“Despite pressure on household finances easing, with petrol and energy costs and shop price inflation all continuing to fall, consumers remain incredibly reluctant to take the brakes off of their spending,” said Linda Ellett, KPMG’s UK head of consumer, retail and leisure. “The stimulus of good weather, Wimbledon and Euro 24, which was hoped would drive consumer spending, has so far failed to materialise and financial concerns remain with many households.”

Data from Barclays showed that retail spending fell by 2.6 percent, driven by a near 8 percent plunge in clothing sales. The bank said colder weather in early June had weighed on the figures.

Non-food sales slumping 2.9 percent in the three months to June versus a year ago, according to the BRC. High street sales were particularly badly hit by consumers staying away, with most of the fall coming from a 3.7 percent decline in in-store non-food sales on a strong comparable the year before.

“The sluggish demand at the start of June even caused some fashion brands to adjust their sales schedules, although I was pleased to see that the situation has since improved with the arrival of sunnier days,” said Karen Johnson, head of retail at Barclays.

She said that sunnier weather and the Euro football tournament are a potential boost to spending in July with England making it to the semi-finals.

“Retailers remain hopeful that as the summer social season gets into full swing and the weather improves, sales will follow suit,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC.

By Jennifer Creery, Irina Anghel and Tom Rees

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