UK retail sector posts fastest quarterly growth on record | Retail business
Unlocking the economy after winter lockdown led to the fastest quarterly growth on record for in-store and online purchases, according to the latest snapshot of consumer spending behavior.
The British Retail Consortium – the trade body that represents retailers – said warmer weather, people on holiday in the UK and the start of the Euro 2020 football tournament had all reinforced the upward spending trend.
In its monthly health check conducted in conjunction with accounting firm KPMG, the BRC said retail sales were 13.1% higher in June than in the same month two years ago, while the total for the second quarter 2021 was 10.4% up from the same quarter. three month period of 2019.
The BRC said it was comparing spending in 2021 to that of 2019, as last year’s numbers were skewed by the slowdown caused by the early stages of the pandemic.
Separate figures from credit card company Barclaycard provided evidence to support an increase in consumer spending in June, with activity 11.1% higher than in the same month of 2019. Barclaycard said that spending on fuel, hotels, resorts and accommodation had all increased for the first time since the pandemic began, as holidaymakers book and embark on vacations in the UK, while the collective enjoyment of sporting events was a factor behind a 38.1% increase in spending in bars and pubs.
The BRC said post-lockdown freedom for consumers to shop on Main Street and shopping parks led to a drop in online spending, with digital penetration dropping from 49.7% to 39.3% between June 2020 and June 2021.
Official retail sales figures from the Office for National Statistics – which do not include spending at bars, restaurants and hotels – showed a 1.4% drop between April and May. The June figures will be released next week.
Helen Dickinson, BRC Managing Director, said: “The second quarter of 2021 has seen exceptional growth as the gradual unlocking of the UK economy has encouraged a release from pent-up demand accumulated in previous lockdowns.
“In June, as the growth in food sales began to slow, non-food sales were supported by growing consumer confidence and continuing to unleash consumer demand. With many people taking a cheaper vacation or vacation to the UK, many found they had a bit more to spend in stores, with strong in-store growth in June. Fashion and shoes fared well as the sun shone in the first half of June, while the start of Euro 2020 gave TVs, snacks and beer a boost.
Dickinson warned the retail business was still struggling, with many businesses still trying to make up for lost ground during the lockdown and city centers still suffering from low footfall caused by working from home and lack of international tourists .
“Convenience of consumers with the next step in the roadmap will be the key to continued retail success. Many customers look forward to a return to a more normal shopping experience, while others may be put off by the change in face cover rules. The government will need to reassure the public of safety, while continuing its extremely successful vaccination program. “
Paul Martin, UK retail manager at KPMG, said: “The fight for wallet share is on, as consumers unleash pent-up demand for social activities as restrictions in the UK Uni continue to relax. “
Raheel Ahmed, Head of Consumer Products at Barclaycard, said: “In June, Britons flocked to pubs, bars and beer gardens to watch football and tennis on the big screen as the heatwave of the start of the months has encouraged many of us to get out in the sun and socialize.
“The start of the Olympics and the expected easing of restrictions later this month should continue to boost morale and provide more opportunities to get together, whether it’s a weekend, a meal at a restaurant or to celebrate sporting victories. “