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Britain begins to grow but business isn’t booming yet

The United Kingdom is beginning to see steady growth in retail markets but has not hit the heights it would be aiming for just yet.

On a total basis, sales increased by 3.4% in June, against a decrease of 1.6% in June 2019.

It is the highest since May 2018, is the first growth registered since the lockdown and above the 3-month average decline of 6.4% and the 12m average decline of 2.1%.

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In June, UK retail sales increased 10.9% on a Like-for-like basis from June 2019, when they had decreased 2.2% from the preceding year.

In June, Like-for-like has been measured excluding temporarily closed stores but including online sales. The report shows how the figure is primarily driven by online sales.

Over the three months to June, in-store sales of non-food items declined 46.8% on a total and 11.3% on a Like-for-like basis.

This is worse than the 12-month Total average decline of 16.5%. For June, the like-for-like excluding temporarily closed stores remained in decline.

Over the same period, Non-Food retail sales increased by 9.5% on a like-for-like basis and declined 15.0% on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average decline of 6.2%. For the month of June, Non-Food was in slight growth year-on-year.

Online Non-Food sales increased by 48.2% in June, against a growth of 3.3% in June 2019. This is above the 12-month average growth of 17.1%.

It is worth noting that 2020 is a 53-week year in the ONS calendar: as a result of the extra week in January 2020, the comparable 2019 performances cited here may differ from those published last year, due to the one-week shift in the comparison.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “June finally saw a return to growth in total sales, primarily driven by online as a result of lockdown measures being eased and pent up demand being released. Despite footfall still being well below pre-coronavirus levels, average spend was up as consumers made the most of their occasional shopping trips.

“Computing, furniture and home improvement all continued to do well as the public invested in home comforts and remote working. However, while categories such as food performed strongly, not all retailers can breathe a sigh of relief, with clothing, footwear, and health & beauty still struggling. All eyes are on next month now that pubs, restaurants and cafes have reopened, in the hope it brings a much needed boost to our high streets and shopping centres.”

She added: “Though a month of growth is welcome news, retail is not out of the woods yet. The pandemic continues to pose huge challenges to the industry, with ongoing stores closures and job losses across the UK.

“The reopening of shops is an important step on the road to recovery, but with months of rent building up, many shops will be forced to close unless action is taken before the next Quarter Rent Day. The Government must remain open to further action to boost consumer demand and should take steps to support with rent costs or the industry could suffer thousands of avoidable job losses.”

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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