UK retailers enjoy jubilee as high street footfall rises | Retail business

Four days of Jubilee celebrations provided a well-deserved respite for UK retailers after a difficult May in which cost of living pressures weighed heavily on spending.

There was a surge in consumer footfall on the high streets over the bank holiday long weekend to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The number of people visiting stores during Jubilee Week rose by more than 17% on average in May – a month in which the BRC said there was evidence of rising inflation deterring the public to spend, with expensive items particularly difficult to move. . Attendance on Thursday, June 2, a public holiday, was 45.5% higher than the May 2022 average.

“It was great to see so many people celebrating and shopping in their favorite local destinations – a welcome boost for retail businesses that depend on store performance, especially on the high street,” said Helen Dickinson , Director General of the BRC.

“We hope the momentum can continue despite the ongoing economic turmoil. »

Dickinson said the BRC’s monthly sales monitor for May showed consumer demand being squeezed by the cost of living crisis which had already pushed the annual inflation rate to a 40-year high of 9% in April. .

Sales last month were 1% lower than May 2021, with higher value items, such as furniture and electronics, being hit the hardest. Fashion and beauty products were the strongest performers as shoppers geared up for summer.

“It is clear that the post-pandemic spending bubble has burst, with retailers facing tougher trading conditions, declining consumer confidence and soaring inflation impacting the purchasing power of consumers. consumers,” Dickinson said. “Supply chain issues, including rising raw material and transportation costs, a tight labor market and higher energy bills, are forcing retailers to raise prices, contributing to broader inflation. . »

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Barclaycard said it detected a similar trend to the BRC, with lower spending on discretionary items in May, followed by an increase in Platinum Jubilee activity.

During the four holiday days from June 2 to Sunday, June 5, restaurant spending increased by 41.5% compared to the same period from Thursday to Sunday in 2021; spending on pubs, bars and nightclubs increased by 74.2%, while spending on entertainment increased by 67.3%.

Rob Cameron, chief executive of Barclaycard Payments, said: “Spending soared across many sectors over the Platinum Jubilee weekend as Britons came together to celebrate and enjoy the sunny weather. Despite broader concerns over the cost of living, the hospitality sector will be particularly pleased with the welcome boost, having missed two years of unrestricted trade.

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