Tesco, one of the leading supermarkets in the UK, faced a significant decrease in clothing sales despite the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions. In their half-year results report, Tesco only mentioned clothing once, which is not surprising considering the category experienced a 17% drop in sales during the latest six-month period.

Although overall group sales increased by 6.6% to £26.7 billion in the first half of the year, clothing sales plummeted by 17.2%. This suggests that consumers showed less interest in purchasing fashion from Tesco compared to their food offerings. General merchandise also experienced a slight decline of 0.3%, while food sales saw a commendable increase of 9.2%.

Despite the rise in total sales, Tesco’s operating profit fell by 4.5% to £1.007 billion. However, the company did report a 28.7% increase in pre-tax profit to £551 million. This highlights the impact of the pandemic on fashion sales, as other supermarkets also reported that customers prioritized essential items over fashion throughout most of the year. It’s understandable that Tesco did not focus extensively on the fashion category in its report, as the company generally provides limited details about it even in successful times.

Although there was some recovery in the fashion sector for Tesco during the second quarter, with a smaller decrease in clothing sales compared to the first quarter’s drop of 20%, it is evident that fashion did not become a priority for shoppers from June onwards.

Despite the challenges faced by the industry, Tesco has shown an ongoing commitment to promoting its fashion range. They have been running TV advertisements for their F&F clothing offer since the second half of the year.

Overall, the decline in Tesco’s clothing sales during the first half of the year reflects the broader impact of the pandemic on fashion retail. With consumers focusing on essential purchases, fashion retailers have struggled to attract customers and generate sales. However, the slight recovery in the second quarter implies that there may be hope for the sector in the coming months as the situation continues to evolve. Tesco and other retailers will have to adapt their strategies to meet changing consumer demands and navigate the uncertain landscape of the fashion industry in the post-pandemic era.

Useful links:
1. The Guardian: Tesco banks on success of women’s jersey and knitwear to revive clothing arm
2. Retail Gazette: Fashion slows Tesco H1 sales growth despite key AGM announcements