UK retail sales surge as Covid-19 restrictions ease – BRC

by | Jul 13, 2021

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The UK’s retail sector enjoyed a record second quarter, industry research showed on Tuesday, as pandemic restrictions continued to ease.

According to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, in-store sales of non-food items declined by 0.1% on a total basis in the three months to June, but surged 47.0% on an underlying basis.

Non-food retail sales, which includes online sales, rose by 45.2% on an underlying basis and by 12.4% on a total basis. Food sales increased 7.9% and 9.1% on a total and underlying basis respectively.

The British Retail Consortium said the quarter was the best on record.

Total sales increased 13.1% in June compared to June 2019, when they fell 1.3%. The growth was also an improvement on the previous months’ rise of 10.0%.

On a like-for-like basis, where online sales play a far greater role, sales increased 17.0%; in June 2019, like-for-like sales decreased 1.6%. The rate of growth has slowed through the quarter, however, from 46.3% in April and 23.7% in May.

Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, added: “The second quarter of 2021 saw exceptional growth as the gradual unlocking of the UK economy encouraged a release of pent-up demand built up over the previous lockdowns.

“In June, while food sales began to slow, non-food sales were bolstered by growing consumer confidence and the continued unleashing of consumer demand,

“With many people taking staycations, or cheaper UK-based holidays, many have found they have a little extra to spend at the shops. Fashion and footwear did well while the sun was out in the first half of June, while the start of Euro 2020 provided a boost for TVs, snack food and beer.”

However, Dickinson warned that the sector still faced a number of headwinds, including fewer international tourists and below normal footfall in city centres.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “Retailers are facing challenges on a number of fronts, particularly convincing consumers that it’s safe to shop in store as restrictions around mask wearing and social distancing come to an end.

“With travel now looking to be back on the agenda for summer and government Covid-19 support packages coming to an end, retailers will be hoping that the feel good factor from Euro 2020 and lifting of Covid-19 restrictions will give the high street the summer boost it needs.”

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