This past winter may go down as one of the nastiest in history. Polar vortexes and superstorms plagued parts of the U.S., while the U.K. experienced its wettest winter ever recorded, according to BBC News. That’s why experts weren’t feeling particularly generous when they made their predictions for consumers’ spending habits during the blooming springtime’s shopping season.
Retail sales did indeed hit a decline in March, but according to the Telegraph, it was much softer than expected. All things considered, sales dropped by 1.7 pence compared with the data from March 2013 and by only 0.3 pence on a total basis. Online sales, on the other hand, rose greatly, up just under 13% from last year’s data.
What kinds of purchases did shoppers make? As Telegraph reports, women’s ballet pumps and summer dresses were quite popular, though that might have something to do with the timing of new styles and the improvement in the weather. Sunglasses, of which nearly a billion are produced every year, will soon be in high demand as the clouds begin to part and the sun begins to spread across the sky. As Express points out, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that footwear was indeed a top seller as was fashion on a larger scale, comprising more than one-third of all the non-food online sales growth.
One area where sales weren’t as strong was the furniture sector, which typically gets a boost around Easter. Experts believe the lack of furniture retail during this period may be blamed on the late-falling holiday in April this year as opposed to in March. All of this data contributes to the final number of like-for-like sales in the U.K., which fell a total of 1.7% from last year.
On the grocery front, things may begin to heat up before they can cool down once again, the experts say. According to David McCorquodale, KPMG’s head of retail, the sales picture looks flat now, but a more accurate read of it could be obtained if you don’t count the variations due to the Easter holiday.
“Food sales fell in like-for-like value again this month and the decision by some of the major grocers to go head to head in a billion pound price war will exacerbate this situation,” McCorquodale said.
Whatever happens in the future months, experts remain optimistic that nicer weather will bring about greater consumer shopping sprees. Whether this will actually take shape or not still remains to be seen.