Retail sales data - March 22

ended 21. April 2022

Tomorrow (Friday) morning at 07:00, the Office for National Statistics is publishing the latest retail sales data. Given the current climate, this will be a big story tomorrow in local, national and trade media. If you sell products online or on the high street, we want to know how things are for you. Also, this is a story that everyone can contribute to, as we're all consumers. Few Qs below:

  • How were sales for you in March? Strong, weak or average?
  • How confident are. you as a retailer (online, bricks and mortar, or both) right now?
  • In your capacity as a consumer, are you spending less or more cautiously due to soaring inflation and energy bills?

Any other thoughts, jot them down and we'll do our best to get you some media coverage in the local and national media tomorrow and over the weekend.

16 responses from the Newspage community

"March took us a little by surprise. It was our all-time record month for sales, even beating Christmas. I want to be optimistic that this will continue and that we will buck the trend. However, I am very concerned about the current level of inflation and how this is starting to bite. I expect we will see people adjusting their spending patterns to cope in the coming months. I think we might need to see some bigger, more radical interventions from the government if they don't want to see the economy grinding to a halt. The retail sector is under immense pressure and has a tough year ahead of it."
"After a pretty poor start to the year, we have been buoyed by a very strong March with businesses a bit more willing to commit to spend. April has also been an excellent month for our online sales too. The irony is that rising wholesale costs are pushing margins to a point that, even with sales being up, personal spend and the ability to take money out of the business is still very low so we have tightened the belt to a point of suffocation at home."
Our sales remained strong in March but I feel the impact of the current economic climate is yet to be fully reflected in consumer buying habits. This is particularly true of the property market sector, whereby transdactkions can take a number of months to complete and so will not yet be truely relfected in the data. As both a business owner and a consumer, we approach the future with caution. Now is a great time to review income and expenditure and make sure the finances are in good order.
Star Quote
"People haven't swapped sirloin steaks for braising steak quite yet but there are clearly economic storm clouds ahead. Though inflation and energy bills are soaring, sales for us are holding up for now and we haven't seen a noticeable shift in customers switching to cheaper meats such as chicken or pork. We've also found that the pandemic has changed people's socialising habits. Staying in is the new going out as it's much cheaper and people can afford to drink and eat better in their own homes rather than in restaurants. An expensive cut of meat from a butcher is still significantly cheaper than eating out and for now that's supporting our sales. However, we're acutely aware of the financial pressures people are facing and are monitoring things closely so we can do our best to support our customers in the months ahead. The health of an entire economy can in many respects be determined by the cuts of meat people buy."
Star Quote
"I'm a goldsmith and own a small online independent business hand making silver and gold jewellery. Compared to this time last year my sales have dipped. We were in Covid times last year and sales were steady so I can only put down the dip in sales to soaring inflation. Consumers understandably don't need handmade jewellery, they need heating and food, so I don't see how a small business can be sustained in this current climate filled with rising costs at every level. I myself am now spending more cautiously as I am unsure what future outgoings will be. I have to pass on any increase in supplier costs to the consumer, which does hamper sales when trying to run a profitable business."
Star Quote
"As an online micro-business offering unique handmade jewellery, we had expected a decline in sales given the current global climate. After all, you would expect purse strings to tighten and customers to sit tight amid the cost of living crisis.In our case, we have seen an interesting shift in customer purchases: though we have had fewer sales, the sales we have had have been higher value purchases. "I definitely feel that the shift corresponds to a mood that matches more austere times historically. Those that lived through WW2 spent money wisely, and never on throwaway items, and it’s certainly what I witnessed with my own parents. Quality items were viewed as an investment, and I think this is mirrored in our most recent customer experience where purchases are not only personal and cherished, but seen an investment. In the case of our handmade jewellery, a purchase is not only a personal investment in something solid and tangible in the shape of precious metal bullion and gemstones, but it is an heirloom that can be passed forward. "Smaller, inexpensive and reproducible jewellery designs that you might have thought would see greater interest have actually seen a drop in sales. But we are delighted that customers are valuing a small artisan business and supporting us. It does, I think, mark a shift away from excessive consumerism and throwaway buying. The consumer is still spending, but in a more considered manner."
Star Quote
"The consumer side of our business has really slowed down and I think that is because people are spending less on those extras like subscription boxes. For business owners, amid the current cost of living crisis, it's really difficult to go out each day and ask people to buy more stuff. We need to sell more but now doesn't feel like a good time to be asking people to spend. It's a tough old time but that's the rollercoaster ride of running a small business. Sometimes there are boom times and other times you're desperately DMing celebrities and creating terrible Instagram reels in the hope that someone will shout out your business and help you pay your bills. It's a glamorous life. As a consumer, I'm definitely spending less but it's also Spring and it's been sunny. Who needs things when the sun is out, except if those things are inclusive kids' books from us?"
Star Quote
"March sales to my UK customers were fairly average but it took a lot of hustle on my part to drive traffic to my store. I think people are being a bit more cautious to see what their energy bills will be like. I'm not at all confident right now. I'm worried that a lot of households don't really understand what's coming, not just in April but also the further utility increases in October. It will hit everyone hard, and they won't have money left over for treats. Personally, I am spending less at the moment, and saving more. I am worried about the rainy days to come, about sales droughts, and about our increased bills at home, especially as I own and run three plug-in electric glass kilns."
As a Money Coach, I am seeing my clients slowly start to realise that managing their money is not a means of being able to start to invest, but more of a way to avoid debt. Middle income earners who "are doing alright" financially are finally feeling the pinch and it is beginning to hurt. Interestingly, price rises and saving the planet seem to be coming together with many thinking that spending less on items they don't need not only saves them money but also saves the planet. Frugal living is becoming more popular and it is being helped by inflation. Growing your own veg, eating less meat, low-cost entertainment, drinking less alcohol, and buying less "stuff" is in conversation a lot in my group work. Indeed, I am doing the same....
"We have noticed that bricks and mortar sales are still down but online is still going strong. The demand for in-person workshops and wellbeing company days is our biggest growth area. We have not put our prices up yet, as we are concerned about everyone's cost of living, but we run electric kilns everyday and our materials costs have gone through the roof. We are trying everything we can to not have to pass this onto our customers. Our Make-At-Home fused glass kits are going from strength to strength and lots of people are now enjoying relaxing activities at home rather than travelling. We have had amazing support from our loyal customers over the past few years and long may that continue."
"Sales in March were pretty good compared with January and February, which were quiet. Our community said they were feeling more motivated to start making some eco swaps and lifestyle changes as the season is changing and we’re moving into spring. This was reflected in the orders coming through and we had a lot more people buying eco cleaning products, such as refill cleaning spray pods, plastic free scourers and compostable cleaning cloths. Hair care and skincare also sold well so I wonder if people are doing a spring glow up ready for the summer. Similar to many small brands, the cost of living crisis is a worrying time but people do seem to want to shop more sustainably and I’m passionate that eco-friendly products don’t need to cost more so I feel positive about the future."
"I have definitely seen a dip in sales in light of the cost of living crisis. I sell online and at local artisan markets on the weekends. My relatively new business, creating prints cards and gifts from my illustrations of British Wildlife, had experienced slow but steady growth until now. I have a second job as a freelance graphic designer and a 2 year old (which is a full time job in itself) so my time and money are always a little strained, however I love what I do and I'm determined not to contribute to the depressing statistics of how many small businesses fail within 1-3 years. I probably made my life a little tougher when I promised myself I'd only use British manufacturers to produce my illustrated goods. I strongly believe that if we invest in small and local businesses we can help to boost our own economy. I will continue to brave the storm for now and stay hopeful about the future."
NetRev has seen a large increase in brands listening to consumer concerns over economic uncertainity and the cost of living crisis. Demand to appeal to these users looking to save is increasing inline with the discount and offers brands are offering. One thing is for sure is that to win the consumer moving forward, brands need to be offering the best deal around.
"We have seen a slight reduction in sales recently, but while inflation and rising energy bills have clearly seen people’s household finances squeezed, we have continued to see people spend on presents for their children. It seems from our sales that this is a cut in spending people aren’t having to make yet. As a small and young business experiencing its first year out a pandemic, we really are in wait and see mode. We don’t yet have a full idea of what spending habits will look like once everyone has adjusted to our new post-pandemic habits. On a personal level, I can certainly empathise with people's cost-cutting. Our own household is certainly looking at where we can cut costs without really impacting our day-to-day enjoyment. Like many of our customers, I think we aren’t yet sure what that will look like."
"I sell handmade natural skincare both online and in a local social enterprise craft shop. I have noticed a significant drop in sales, both online and in store over the last few weeks. I believe people are now viewing my range as more of a treat/luxury experience as opposed to an item they previously didn't think twice about buying a few times a month. It is quite a worrying as I fear people will continue to shop less and less for skincare items deemed non-essential. As a consumer I can totally relate to this as I also have had to budget more and think twice about what I buy. I set my business up in lockdown, seeing it as an opportunity after losing my job due to Covid and now I am frightened of losing this business.”
"We launched the retail side of our business at the start of 2022. Sales are in line with what we expected, but an interesting indicator for us has been the significant number of people who have “wish-listed” our products rather than buying straight away. We’ve been surprised at how many people have contacted us, reached out to start a relationship with our brand, expressing their love for our VEIDI notebooks and their intention to buy, but haven’t. "Though we sell a premium stationery product, we are yet seeing traditional price resistance; in fact, we’ve received much praise and encouragement that our refillable notebooks are good value considering their sustainable and ethical provenance. The sentiment that we are hearing from this community of eco- and ethically-conscious consumers is that they are watching and waiting. They are concerned and challenged by the rising cost of living and upset at the compromises they foresee they may have to make over the coming months. Where they would normally choose to buy from small UK businesses that run sustainably and ethically, they fear that they will not be able to afford these choices across all their purchases. Our main concern for trading through 2022 and beyond is that shopping sustainably is becoming more and more of a luxury, increasingly beyond the reach of many UK consumers. This is a concern not only for our business but for the environment and planet as a whole."