Coronavirus

Retail sales boosted in June

The volume of retail sales rose by 13.9% in June against May figures, as non-food and fuel stores continued their recovery in the wake of the pandemic. 

According to the latest figures from the ONS, the two monthly increases of retail sales in May and June have brought total sales to a “similar” level that was seen before Covid, with a fall of just 0.6% when compared with February.

Food stores and online retailing both reached record levels since the start of the pandemic. Food sales were boosted by 5.3%, while online retailing soared by 53.6% against February. 

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There was a “mixed picture” across different types of retail destinations, however.  

Despite strong monthly growths in non-food stores and fuel, with sales up by 45.5% and 21.5% respectively, levels in these divisions are yet to recover from the drastic decline seen in March and April.

Meanwhile, in the three months to June, sales fell by 9.5% when compared with the previous quarter of trading, with declines across all store types, except food stores and online retailing.

In addition, the proportion of online spending fell to 31.8% in June, against the “record” 33.3% reported in May. This is still a “considerable” increase from the 20% reported in February, however.

Value sales increased by 13.6% in June, and for total retail, excluding fuel, there was an increase in both value and volume measures when compared with February, in addition to the same month a year ago.

Silvia Rindone, EY UK& I retail partner, said: “There is some hope on the horizon with sales starting to pick up more across the board. Our own recent research shows a cautious optimism beginning to appear, with consumers feeling more comfortable with spending and going out to shop.

“While optimism about the future is more positive now, we’re still not past the pandemic and getting back to ‘normal’ will still take time.” 

She added: “Our latest research shows this online growth is a lasting trend. Consumer companies should continue to embrace the opportunity and build capacity to meet demand. This will enable them to gain sales now and in the future. 

“Business leaders should focus on reshaping their portfolios so that they are relevant to the evolving consumer, providing digital customer journeys that reflect the way consumers will behave and creating the transparency needed to secure consumer trust.” 

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