UK fashion spend fell last month says latest Visa index

Consumer spending dropped in April, according to Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index, with a 2% dip year-on-year, matching the decline seen in March as well. And the news was worse for physical stores as face-to-face spending was down 5.4%, the sharpest fall for six years, after a 2.9% drop in March.

Britons reined-in their fashion spending last month

Did e-tail take up the slack? Not really. Visa said that e-commerce categories “saw little change to expenditure compared to a year ago.” Spend on this measure even dipped, albeit by just 0.1%, which was better than the 1.1% fall in March. 

And while household goods and recreation/culture were the weakest performing sectors, clothing/footwear retailers saw the steepest decline in spend for six months with a 3.5% drop. And even the usually-more-buoyant ‘miscellaneous goods and services’ category, which includes health/beauty, also recorded lower expenditure volumes compared to April 2017. 

Visa’s chief commercial officer Mark Antipof said: “With inflation beginning to fall and wages growing faster than expected in recent months, it would have been easy to assume we might be over the worst of the consumer squeeze. Yet there has been no corresponding improvement in spending, with April’s 2% decline a simple repeat of what we witnessed in March.”

He said that low confidence levels among shoppers and the gloomy outlook for the UK economy are likely to have contributed to this continued caution. “It is clear that consumers remain in belt-tightening mode, with discretionary spending on furniture, electrical appliances and recreational activities worst hit,” he added.

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