While retail footfall figures are showing strong signs of early recovery, there is still “a long way to go” according to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Helen Dickinson.
The comment was made as the first data comes in after the reopening of non-essential retail across England and Wales.
On a total sales basis, the BRC reported, sales increased considerably over in the period following reopening and by 7.3% across the month of April (4 April to 1 May) compared to April 2019. This is above the three-month average growth of 6.0%.
Commenting on the uptick, Helen Dickinson, chief executive, BRC, said: “Following the reopening of so-called non-essential stores on 12 April in England and Wales and continued online growth, retail sales enjoyed a welcome boost last month.
“With the short-term pent-up demand for the shopping experience drawing consumers back to stores, non-food sales across stores and online increased by a quarter between March and April.
“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.”
Dickinson did, however, warn that retailers are not out of the woods yet.
She said: “While the boost in sales is positive as the industry continues to invest in safety and the online offer, high streets still have a long way to go on the path to recovery.
“There are 530,000 people who work in retail still on furlough. This and the end of the full business rates relief in England in June jeopardises the future of many stores and the livelihoods of those who depend on them.
“The government must deliver on its promise to reform the broken rates system in their ongoing review and reduce the financial burden on retailers, or risk more unnecessary store closures and job losses.”
This comes after the BRC reported that there were early signs of recovery earlier this week. Read more below: