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UK shoppers buy clothes for outdoor social life, holidays at home

Tue, 11th May 2021 00:01

LONDON, May 11 (Reuters) - British shoppers bought warm
clothes to meet friends and family outdoors - part of a broader
rise in retail spending last month as many shops re-opened - and
people booked more summer holidays in the United Kingdom,
surveys showed on Tuesday.

The British Retail Consortium said total sales were 7.3%
higher in April than in the same month two years ago.

The BRC said comparisons with April 2019 gave a better sense
of trends in the sector than its usual year-on-year sales
measure which showed a jump of more than 50%, reflecting how the
retail sector was largely shut in April 2020.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said fashion retailers
saw sales rise, particularly in outerwear and knitwear, as the
public braved the cold spring weather to meet outdoors as pubs
and restaurants partially reopened from April 12.

Furniture sales, which have risen due to increased
home-working and booming residential property sales, were also
up.

"However, this sales growth is fragile," Dickinson said.
"There is little competition for share of spending while parts
of hospitality, leisure, and tourism remain restricted and inner
cities and town centres continue to perform poorly as many
people continue to work from home."

Separate figures from payment processor Barclaycard showed
debit and card spending last month was 0.4% higher than April
2019, the first growth this year by that measure.

Spending on essential items rose 10.1%, the strongest growth
since August last year, pushed up by an 18.5% jump in
supermarket shopping.

Resorts and accommodation saw growth of 1.6% as many people
considered taking their summer holidays in Britain while
airlines and travel agents reported declines of more than 80%
with foreign trips largely prohibited.

Spending on fuel showed a smaller decline as more people
travelled to see friends and family.

Barclaycard was unable to provide comparisons with spending
in April last year.

Barclaycard's measure of consumer confidence in the economy
rose to 36% in April from 28% in March, its highest since
February 2020 which was shortly before the onset of the
pandemic, echoing the latest GfK survey on consumer confidence.

The consumer confidence survey was based on interviews with
2,000 people between April 24-26.
(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce)

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