Loungewear sales rise as shoppers shelve party outfits amid Omicron spread

Return of work from home guidance, cancelled parties and self-isolation made people spend more time at home over festive period

Kate Ng
Tuesday 11 January 2022 09:23

British shoppers have traded their party heels for fuzzy slippers as the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 led to people staying indoors more over the festive period.

The government reintroduced work from home guidance in early December and the quick spread of the variant meant more people had to self-isolate at home, which resulted in many festive parties being cancelled.

This meant loungewear sales saw a resurgence after dipping post-lockdown last year. In 2020, as the UK underwent multiple coronavirus lockdowns, loungewear sales rose 1,303 per cent, reported City AM.

Helen Dickinson, boss of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “Loungewear was back in fashion [over the festive period], as many pre-empted the possibility of future restrictions.

“Meanwhile, the return of work from home advice and reduction in Christmas social events caused formalwear sales to slow.

“In the face of rising case numbers and supply-chain issues, people in retail pulled out all the stops to ensure everyone got what they wanted this Christmas.”

Despite concerns over the Omicron variant, UK retailers saw strong sales throughout December, with total sales rising 2.1 per cent compared with the same period in 2020.

According to the BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor, the growth in sales were driven by non-food spending as shoppers splurged on Christmas gifts.

Over the three months to December, non-food retail grew 4.8 per cent, while food sales reported a 0.4 per cent rise.

However, the monitor’s figures showed a slowdown in activity towards the end of the December.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said overall online sales declined throughout the month, falling by over eight per cent. Footwear was the only online category to see mild growth.

“Consumers continued to head to the high street for their festive gifts, determined to secure the presents they wanted and not leaving online deliveries arriving on time to chance,” he said.

It comes as figures from Barclaycard revealed a spike in essential spending for the month. However, the spread of Omicron has hit hospitality and leisure spending, as restaurants saw spending slide by 14.1 per cent against pre-pandemic levels from 2019.

Jose Carvalho, head of consumer products at Barclaycard, said: “While consumer card spending levels are up on 2019, December was a mixed picture for retail, hospitality and leisure, as restrictions to tackle the spread of Omicron started to take effect.

“More Brits were either isolating or choosing to stay at home due to the new variant, which hampered face-to-face retailers as well as hospitality and leisure outlets.”

Additional reporting by PA

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