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Clothing spend in March falls

Consumer spend in clothing and footwear dropped 2.7% in March, the sharpest decline for five months, rounding off the worst quarter in over five years for spend in general.

According to Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index, spend in clothing and footwear was down 2.3% in January year-on-year, down 1.5% in February and down 2.7% in March, as the bad weather caused disruption to both businesses and consumers.

Overall spending in March fell 2.1% year-on-year, with face-to-face spend down 3%. Ecommere spend showed a decline of 1.2% during the month, falling for the first time in 10 months and by its fastest rate since 2012.

On average, spending fell by 1.4% year-on-year over the first quarter, to mark the worst quarterly performance since Q4 2012.

Mark Antipof, chief commercial officer at Visa, said: “The negative impact that the ‘Beast from the East’ had on UK economic activity last month has been widely reported, but this doesn’t entirely explain March’s lacklustre consumer spending. We are in the midst of a dip in consumer confidence and this – coupled with other economic factors – is causing shoppers to continue to restrain themselves.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, added: “As cost pressures have worked their way into wallets, and as snow storms hit our shores, the volatility and exposure of the UK’s retail industry has become all too apparent. All this points to the fact that consumers are clawing back their spend, so retailers will have to fight even harder to win their share of a shrinking wallet.”

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