Brexit Panic Hits UK Retail Spending

Brexit remains a chaotic affair for the whole of Britain, starting from the policymakers to businesses and also for the general public. Considering the sort of chaos that the country has plunged into over the last few months, it is not surprising that consumer appetite has waned as well. In a fresh development, the British Retail Consortium has reported that consumer spending in some of the more expensive retail businesses in the country has dipped for the first time in 11 months. While experts continually pointed towards an economic depression in the country once Brexit eventually kicked in, there was one bright spot for many, and that was the continuous rise in consumer spending on retail. However, that fig leaf is now gone, and the reading makes for a grim picture of the situation on the ground in the country.

In their latest report, the BRC has found the consumer spending in some of the most popular stores went down by as much as 0.5% in the month of March, compared to the same period in 2018. It comes as a big shock since in the previous month of February; the spending had gone up the same percentage. One of the biggest reasons behind the fall in spending could have been linked to the fact that the UK was supposed to exit the European Union on the 29th of March. However, that did not happen as Prime Minister Theresa May failed to push a deal through Parliament and the deadline has now been extended until the 12th of April. This is a vital week for the country.

The head of the BRC Helen Dickinson stated that Brexit remains a significant factor in the alarming results for the month of March and insisted that people were cautious with their spending at retail stores last month. She said, “Brexit continues to feed the uncertainty among consumers. While jewellery, beauty products and clothing purchases were all up to indulge on Mother’s Day, shoppers were generally cautious not to overspend, particularly on larger items.”

On the other side of the spectrum, payment services provider like Barclaycard stated that spending on other sectors like restaurants, pubs and general entertainment was higher. However, an executive at Barclaycard did concede that consumers are still being cautious with their money. The executive said, “Underlying sentiment is cautious. March was characterised by ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, with consumers concerned about an impact on food prices and supplies.”

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