Sales surge thanks to retail reopening

In the three weeks following the reopening of stores across England and Wales on 12 April, non-food sales increased by 25 per cent compared to the previous month under lockdown.

Also, in the four weeks to 1 May 2021 total sales were up by 7.3 per cent against April 2019.

This is according to the latest British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, which compares only with 2019 (pre-pandemic) as 2020 was “a turbulent year” resulting in difficulty to make “meaningful comparisons”, it says.

In its latest report, it showed that total UK retail sales increased 46.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis from April 2019 (stores that have closed, are yet to reopen, or are new stores – in the last two years – are not included in the like-for-like figures, however, all online sales are included).

Sales of household appliances were up against April 2019 – it was the third ranking category (out of 13 categories) last month, behind computing and furniture.

Meanwhile, online non-food sales increased by 57.4 per cent in April, against a growth of just 4.3 per cent in April 2019. Household appliances placed middle of the table in terms of online sales growth, with figures sustained from March this year.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said retail sales enjoyed a “welcome boost” last month, with the short-term pent-up demand for the shopping experience drawing consumers back to stores.

“It is great to see customers feeling confident visiting shops, a testament to the ongoing investment by retailers in making their stores, warehouses, and deliveries COVID-secure.

“High streets still have a long way to go on the path to recovery.”

Ms Dickinson warned that 530,000 people who work in retail are still on furlough, saying the Government must do what it can to help reduce the financial burden on retailers.

Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, added: “Online sales continued to grow across most categories, but at a reduced rate as many consumers stepped away from their computers to head outside. This maybe has come as a surprise, although it does showcase that some changes in consumer behaviour are here to stay.”