Clothing and footwear retailers bear brunt of weak April sales  

KRISTIN BROWN ON UNSPLASH

Retail sales tumbled for the third consecutive month in April as poor weather and the cost-of-living squeeze dampened consumer spending.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the amount shoppers bought in physical stores fell by -2.3 per cent in April following a marginal decrease of -0.2 per cent in March.

Most sectors were affected, with non-food stores sales volumes plummeting by 4.1 per cent. Clothing and footwear retailers, however, were among the hardest hit and experienced a 5.1 per cent dip.

There was a slight rise on a three-month basis, largely because of a weak December 2023, with sales volumes increasing by 0.7 per cent from February to April compared to the three months before.  

While the weather undoubtedly impacted high street footfall, shoppers reined in their spending online, too. Figures show e-commerce sales fell by -1.2 per cent in April compared to the month before and by -1.5 per cent year-on-year.

Kris Hamer, director of insight at the British Retail Consortium, comments: “Sales volumes saw significant decline in April, falling for the third time in five months. Cosmetics continued to sell well, and computer sales were boosted thanks to promotional activity and consumers upgrading their tech. However, clothing and footwear and furniture failed to deliver due to the poor weather and consumers thinking twice before buying high ticket items.

“With summer around the corner, and inflation fast approaching the Bank of England’s 2 per cent target, retailers are hopeful that consumer confidence will improve, and spending will pick up once again.

“Retail is crucial to healthy local economies, and if the next government wants to boost growth and jobs in left behind regions, it must help unlock retail investment right across the country. With a General Election fast approaching, political parties must ensure their manifestos detail how they will support retail, the three million people it employs, and the 60 million people it serves.”