MURKY WATERS: The mood among U.K. consumers remains subdued, with political uncertainty weighing heavily on their minds — and wallets. With February marking precisely one year before the U.K. splits from the EU, Brexit continues to be a cause for concern. According to Barclays’ latest consumer spending report for February, 50 percent of consumers are worried that the outcome of negotiations will leave them worse off financially than they are now.
British consumers are, not surprisingly, downbeat about their spending power, with only 54 percent feeling confident about their household finances. Rising prices are still causing many to feel the pinch with 39 percent of Brits reporting they have less money to spend now than they did this time last year.
In February, clothing spending overall increased 1.7 percent year-over-year, with women’s clothing down 5.3 percent and footwear down 6 percent. Men’s wear showed the most robust growth, growing 6.1 percent. Online sales rose 8.6 percent overall, while in-store purchases were down 2.1 percent.
According to Paul Lockstone, managing director at Barclaycard, consumers are cautious about the potential ramifications of whatever settlement the U.K. achieves, and “as negotiations continue, it’s likely that this will continue to weigh on sentiment.”