British retail received some good news Tuesday.
Clothing and footwear transactions saw an uptick in sales in May, as UK consumers finally opened their wallets and ended a months-long spiral of dwindling sales.
“While still not spectacular, it is in line with the 12-month average of 1.5%,” Helen Dickinson, chief executive officer of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said in a statement. “This appears to be due to consumers waiting for just the right moment before embarking on their pre-summer spending.”
David McCorquodale, KPMG’s head of retail, agreed. “Despite rain dampening the May Day mood, fashion sales finally lifted following a tough three months of trading for retailers,” he said. “The appearance of some spring sunshine encouraged consumers to hit the sales and take advantage of early summer promotions.”
Children’s footwear was the standout category and kids’ clothing sales rose, too.
“With a summer of sport kicking off in June and festival season getting underway, retailers will be hoping that the feel-good factor coupled with a dose of summer sunshine will keep the tills ringing over the summer months,” McCorquodale continued.
However, Dickinson said conditions will remain rough.
“While this month’s pick-up in sales will come as a welcome relief, it’s still a challenging time for retailers,” she said, noting that she expects sales figures to remain volatile for the time being. “Shop price deflation continues and intensity of competition is fierce. Controlling costs and improving efficiency and productivity will be crucial for retailers as they continue to navigate increasingly tough trading conditions.”