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Unlocking Consumer Spending ‘Vital for Jobs and Investment’

The Welsh Retail Consortium is calling on the next UK government to support retailers to unlock consumer spending.

The call comes as the Office for National Statistics reported that retail sales volumes rose by 2.9% in May 2024 following a fall of 1.8% in April. It said sales volumes rose across most sectors, with clothing retailers and furniture stores rebounding following poor weather in April.

Sara Jones, Head of the Welsh Retail Consortium, said:

“May’s warmer weather led to a small recovery in retail sales for the month. Larger retailers outperformed small retailers, with clothing and footwear particularly benefitting from the change in temperatures. Nonetheless, sales volumes still remain below their 2021 levels.

“With the General Election less than two weeks away, retailers look forward to working with the next government to understand how they can support an industry that unlocks more than £460 billion in consumer spending a year. Including the retail supply chain, the industry supports jobs for almost 20% of the workforce, meaning that improving consumer confidence and unlocking consumer spending is vital for jobs and investment right across Wales and the UK.”

Carolyn Brownell, Executive Director of Business Improvement District FOR Cardiff, said:

“Cardiff is a thriving city and these figures showing a rise in retail spending will be welcome news to many of our members across the city centre. Spending on discretionary items such as clothing and footwear points to a pleasing rise in consumer confidence.

“Unfortunately the larger growth of non-store retailing points toward the unfair advantage of retailers who operate without the burden of high street business rates. Any serious effort to support town and city centre retail needs to urgently redress this balance.”

Charlie Huggins, Manager of the Quality Shares Portfolio at Wealth Club, said:

“Retail sales volumes came in much stronger than expected in May, following a wash-out in April.

“Sales rose in every category, with clothing and footwear sales bouncing back particularly strongly, up 5.4%. This suggests the weather gods were mainly to blame for April's weak showing, and not anything more sinister.

“Moderating inflation and a healthy jobs market mean consumers are still spending, despite interest rates having remained higher for longer. With rates widely expected to be cut later this summer, this could inject a further boost of optimism.

“Following April's weakness, retailers up and down the country will be breathing a sigh of relief. There is nothing in May's retail figures to suggest consumers are cutting back. In fact, one could even go as far to say that the consumer is in fine health.”

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