There’s been a lot of confusing data about UK retail sales in May but now the official figures are out and what do they show? Retail was in a good place in May and clothing retail was the reason. Shock, Horror.
Really? We’re continuously told that retail is suffering at the moment and clothing retail is suffering even more. But it seems that some warm weather in May really spurred us to start buying sandals, blouses, bikinis and festival clothes, even if we were splashing our way through puddles as often as we basked in sunshine.
So, the numbers: Sales volumes rose 6% year-on-year after an upwardly-revised 5.2% rise in April. And fashion sales rose 4.3% month-on-month, presumably reflecting pent-up demand and a proliferation of price cuts. Sales by value rose only 3.1% year-on-year and although that isn’t a bad figure, it means we bought more stuff but didn’t necessarily pay more for it so it’s likely we all took advantage of price cuts.
Weirdly, online sales soared 21.5% compared to only a 6.4% rise in April, which suggests we all either went shopping crazy on some of May’s very wet days or the figures are wrong and will be revised later.
The volume vs value ratio isn’t great news for retailer profits. They, of course, would much rather you bought that summer top at £17.99 in April rather than £9.99 in May. They make more profit on it that way, although they’re obviously grateful that they managed to sell it at all and that it isn’t stuck in a warehouse somewhere.
Let’s hope the rain stays off for the rest of this month so we’re in even more of a warm weather clothing mood… although looking out of the window at the moment, I’m not feeling confident.