We are into the second month of the Autumn/Winter retail season in the Northern Hemisphere, a critical season for sales of wool clothing. Given what has happened this year with the awful toll of COVID-19 and the associated restrictions and now the second wave of infections rising in Europe, the US and, to a lesser extent, Japan, it is time to take stock on how consumer confidence and retail sales are shaping up in the major wool consuming countries in the Northern Hemisphere.
Consumer confidence in the major wool consuming countries has mostly recovered from the initial hit earlier this year caused by the COVID 19 pandemic. Of the major wool consuming EU countries, consumers in the UK and Italy are the least confident, which is no surprise given that those two countries are being hit hardest by the second wave of COVID-19. Consumers in Germany are more confident. Consumers in Japan and South Korea are becoming increasingly confident, helped by a better management of COVID-19 in those countries.
These weak but recovering consumer confidence levels translate into some improvement in retail sales of clothing for some countries, but not all. There are some tentative signs of improvement in the US, China, Japan and South Korea. However, the decline in retail sales shows no sign of abating in the UK, while retail sales in France and Italy appear to have bottomed out. Despite an improvement, the growth rate of retail sales of clothing in China (the world’s largest retail consumer of wool clothing) is still negative on a 12-month moving average basis. A positive is that one of the major shopping events in China (and increasingly being adopted around the world), Single’s Day, on 11th November broke sales records for the major retail trading platforms, including JD.com and Alibaba. This provides hope that the recent moderate improvement in clothing retail sales in China is starting to gather momentum.
Further details including two charts, one showing the trends in consumer confidence in the major wool consuming countries and one showing the trends in clothing retail sales growth, are provided in the full version of this week’s Weekly Newsletter. Available to NCWSBA members.