Don Williams, Retail Partner at KPMG, said:

“The rain in May failed to dampen consumer demand and shoppers continued to return to the high street. Clothing retailers were the biggest beneficiaries of pent up demand, clocking up increases of over 100% as an easing of restrictions saw stores reopen and social events slowly come back on the agenda. Consumers also splurged on new jewellery, footwear and home accessories, with sales registering triple digit growth against last year, when lockdown measures were in place. Although some spend has migrated to high street, there was still high penetration of online spending in May reinforcing the view that the pandemic has seen a step up in online activity as some consumers maintain their use of this channel out of habit and choice and some remain nervous about venturing back into stores.

Retailers now face an interesting few months as they assess how they best entice their customers back to stores and what the right blend of offline and online will be as spending patterns settle in a post-COVID world. With the prospect of the full lifting of COVID restrictions coming into force this month, there will be increased competition for share of wallet  as consumers focus on those leisure and hospitality activities that have been denied to them due to lockdown. It is a summer that starts with cautious optimism for many retailers, who will be hoping that the continued success of the vaccine roll-out and an improving economy will offer scope to spark a big surge in consumer spending.”