Clothing sales rise in May as retail sales rebound more than expected across all categories

UK clothing sales began bouncing back in May as fashion retailers pushed their online offerings amid the lockdown, reveal the latest ONS figures. Textile, clothing and footwear stores saw a month-on-month sales increase of 25 per cent compared to April, with online sales commanding a record 49 per cent of all transactions.

The rise will be welcome news for fashion retailers, who  endured nosediving sales in March and April. 

The volume of retail sales overall rose 12 per cent in May compared with the previous month. This is well above the 5.7 per cent expected by economists polled by Reuters. Online spending also saw an increase of 20 per cent, pushing the overall spend online to the highest on record at 33.4 per cent.

Lee Lucas, principle and CEO of the Fashion Retail Academy, says clothing stores were “one the biggest winners of May’s rebound.” He says: “It has been a long and challenging few months for retailers, but it’s encouraging to see a healthy rebound from last month’s record drop in retail sales. The queues we saw on high streets show that many shoppers missed the in-store experience, and were keen to enjoy some retail therapy after months stuck at home.”

With shoppers demonstrating they are willing to return to physical stores, Lucas says retailers need to make the most out of this situation and ensure this momentum continues. He adds: “Proactive engagement with customers via digital channels about in-store offers and discounts, along with demonstrations of how they are enabling social distancing and keeping staff and shoppers safe, will be critical to encouraging return visits.

“It’s critically important that retailers who don’t have an online presence at all find a way to drive those who are more nervous about returning to public spaces back to the high street.”