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KPMG retail head reacts to another “testing month for retailers”

High Street

KPMG’s retail head, Paul Martin, has responded to what he described as another “testing” month on the high street.

He said: “May presented yet another testing month for retailers, with total sales down by 5.9%. The decline is less drastic when compared to April’s fall of 19.1%, however we are comparing performance to the record low of May 2019.”

He was responding to figures released by the British Retail Consortium earlier this week.

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Martin continued: “The disparity between different types of retailers and categories continues, with clear divides between essential and online versus non-essential and physical. Sales of computing equipment, toys and other household goods remained strong – especially online – with home-working and entertainment firmly at the forefront of consumers’ minds.

“Food and drink also performed well; no doubt encouraged by warmer weather and May’s bank holidays. By contrast, many non-essential categories – especially fashion – continued to attract limited demand which will increase the pressure on them in the coming months.”

Concluding: “As restrictions ease, retailers have much to consider during the pandemic’s recovery-phase. Stores may soon have the greenlight to re-open but it will be a gradual affair with safety front of mind, and some doors may not reopen at all. COVID-19 has acted as an accelerant in the shift towards having less of a physical presence, not least due to the obvious need to radically reduce costs for survival.

“We’re also witnessing historically high levels of sales transacted online – currently over 60% – and while this will ease as more stores open, consumers have formed new habits that will see the online channel continue to be more prominent going forward.”

Tags : KPMGretail
Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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