Record quarter for UK retail sales after strong reopening

Retail sales have surged by record levels over the past three months as shoppers flocked back to stores following the easing of lockdown restrictions, according to new figures.

The latest BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor showed the quarter to June saw a mammoth rebound in like-for-like for sales after stores reopened and people continued to spend more online.

Total sales increased 10.4% over the period, with a 13.1% lift in June as spending continued to jump higher.

“The second quarter of 2021 saw exceptional growth as the gradual unlocking of the UK economy encouraged a release of pent-up demand built up over previous lockdowns,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium.

“In June, while growth in food sales begun to slow, non-food sales were bolstered by growing consumer confidence and the continued unleashing of consumer demand.

“With many people taking staycations, or cheaper UK-based holidays, many have found they have a little extra to spend at the shops, with strong growth in-store in June.”

Ms Dickinson added that fashion and footwear sales were strong in the first half of the month with football fever helping to spark strong TV sales later in June.

Non-food stores, such as fashion and homeware retail, saw like-for-like sales jump by 47% for the past quarter as they were buoyed by the strong reopening.

Meanwhile, food sales were also up 7.9% for the three-month period.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “Retailers are facing challenges on a number of fronts, particularly convincing consumers that it’s safe to shop in store as restrictions around mask wearing and social distancing come to an end.

“With travel now looking to be back on the agenda for summer and Government Covid-19 support packages slowly coming to an end, retailers will be hoping that the feel-good factor from Euro 2020 and lifting of Covid restrictions will give the high street the summer boost it needs.”

In separate figures, Barclaycard revealed that consumer credit card spending jumped 11.1% last month.

It revealed that staycations and socialising particularly helped to drive spending, with a 38.1% increase on the amount spent in pubs.

The latest figures also showed a 146% ris in online spend on takeaways and fast food, while the restaurant sector also showed some signs of recovery, the report said.

Meanwhile, essential spending increased by 14.7% amid a 19% rise in supermarket spending for the month.

Raheel Ahmed, head of consumer products at Barclaycard, said: “June saw Brits flock back to pubs, bars and beer gardens to watch the football and tennis on the big screens, as the heatwave early in the month encouraged many of us to get out in the sunshine and socialise.

“The start of the Olympics and the expected easing of restrictions later this month should continue to lift spirits and provide more opportunities for get-togethers, whether that’s a weekend break, a meal out or to celebrate sporting victories.

“It’s great to see Brits making up for lost time over the past year.”