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.
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.”