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Very Group sees customer spending patterns starting to return to those seen before the pandemic

Image courtesy of The Very Group

Very Group says that its customers’ spending habits seem to be shifting back to more familiar patterns, a year on from Covid-19 lockdowns that led to higher spending in home working and living categories. 

Spending in the first quarter of its financial year rose strongly in fashion and sports (+14.5%) but fell in homewares (-16.7%). The group also points to growing sportswear (+7.3%) and electricals (+5.3%) sales), while sales in its ‘developing’ categories, including toys, gifts, beauty and leisure, were 3.2% ahead. 

“Our robust business model which offers a multi-category range has continued to provide resilience against adverse movements in individual products categories as we annualise against a particularly strong Q1 in FY21,” Very Group says in its first-quarter statement. “The Covid-19 pandemic in the UK saw shifts in consumer spending habits with a focus on product categories that support home living and working. As we annualise against this, we are beginning to see a shift back to a more typical basket.” 

At the same time, Very Group has reported rising revenues at its flagship Very brand – but a fall in sales at its declining Littlewoods business. The retailer also says it is seeing “continued benefits from the opening of the new [Skygate] fulfilment and returns centre at East Midlands Gateway”, which kept distribution expanses flat at £49.1m – equivalent to 10.1% of revenue, down from 10.5% last time. The automated centre, designed, built and still supported by Knapp opened just as the first Covid-19 lockdown was announced in March 2020 and now processes orders in as little as 30 minutes. 

Group sales of £484.1m in the first quarter of its financial year. That’s 3.9% up on the same time last year. The overall growth came as revenue grew by 9.6% to £403.8m in the 13 weeks to October 2, while Littlewoods revenue fell by 17.7% to £80.3m from £97.6m a year earlier. Retail sales were 3.9% up, including an 8.6% growth in sales at Very. 

Top-line pre-tax profits came in at £27.2m, but one-off costs of £13.7m, related to the costs of a £575m bond refinancing, meant that bottom line pre-tax profits were £13.5m. That’s up from £8.6m a year earlier.

As of October 2, the retail group had £133.6m in inventory – compared to £113m on September 26 2020 – as it stocked up for peak trading. is a Top50 retailer in RXUK Top500 research, along with

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