Department stores pummelled amid 13 consecutive months of spending decline

Laura Suter
4 December 2018

•         Department stores see 13 consecutive months of decline
•         Consumer confidence hits a record low
•         £1 in £3 of non-food spending is online – a new high

Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at investment platform AJ Bell, comments on the Barclaycard Consumer Spending Report and the British Retail Consortium-KPMG retail sales monitor:

“Department stores took a pummelling in November, as the amount people spent in the shops dropped more than 7% compared to a year earlier, according to the Barclaycard Consumer Spending Report. 

“The problems faced by the likes of House of Fraser and Debenhams, and questions about the stores’ future, have likely put many off shopping with the brands. However, this dip is also the 13th consecutive month of year-on-year declines in consumer spending at department stores in the Barclaycard survey, highlighting the rise of online shopping and the problems these stores face in generating sales.

“It’s understandable that the retailers may face a ‘nerve-wracking’ run-up to Christmas, according to warnings from the British Retail Consortium-KPMG retail sales monitor, as non-food online sales hit an all-time high in November. 

“Last month £1 in every £3 spent on non-food items was spent online, fuelled by discounts in the Black Friday sales. However, like-for-like sales for the month were still lower than last year. What’s more, the Barclaycard survey showed that some of the spending was Christmas shopping done early, with 16% of people saying they will spend less in December as a result of the sales shopping.

“Consumers are clearly still wary of what they spend, with just 52% of respondents to Barclaycard’s survey saying they have confidence in the household finances – the lowest figure ever recorded, while just 40% of Brits want to spend on non-essential items.”

Laura Suter
Personal Finance Analyst
Laura Suter is personal finance analyst at AJ Bell. She is a multi-award winning former financial journalist, having specialised in investments. Laura joined AJ Bell from the Daily Telegraph, where she was investment editor. She has previously worked for adviser publications Money Marketing and Money Management, and has worked for an investment publication in New York. She has a degree in Journalism Studies from University of Sheffield.
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