Signs of growth but crisis far from over.
Covering the four weeks 31st May - 4 July 2020
* Note 2020 is a 53-week year in the ONS calendar: as a result of the extra week in January 2020, the comparable 2019 performances cited here may differ from those published last year, due to the one-week shift in the comparison.
** Excluding Easter distortions
Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail | KPMG
“June saw pent up consumer demand released, with total sales finally back in positive territory – up 3.4% on the same month last year. While the easing of social distancing restrictions is of course welcome news, the challenges and longer-term consequences for the industry have far from disappeared, and not all categories of retail are benefitting from this post-lockdown boom.
“Food and drink sales have continued to perform strongly, and June’s warmer weather accentuated that further. It also resulted in more Brits purchasing items to make their post-lockdown lives more comfortable, whether that be furniture, toys, or computing equipment.
“Fashion sales haven’t rebounded quite as impressively though, despite reports of increased interest from those prepared to queue to enter stores. Online sales – while still in a high gear – are cooling a little as high street activity picks up again slowly and cautiously. That said, whether consumers will forego the convenience of online shopping now that they’ve become accustom to it, remains a fundamental question for the future.
“Retailers won’t be picking up where they left off and months of reduced or no sales will threaten the survival of many. The pandemic has significantly changed consumer behaviour, it’s therefore vital that routes to market and ways of working are adapted with that fact in mind.”
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium
“June finally saw a return to growth in total sales, primarily driven by online as a result of lockdown measures being eased and pent up demand being released. Despite footfall still being well below pre-coronavirus levels, average spend was up as consumers made the most of their occasional shopping trips. Computing, furniture and home improvement all continued to do well as the public invested in home comforts and remote working. However, while categories such as food performed strongly, not all retailers can breathe a sigh of relief, with clothing, footwear, and health & beauty still struggling. All eyes are on next month now that pubs, restaurants and cafes have reopened, in the hope it brings a much needed boost to our high streets and shopping centres.
“Though a month of growth is welcome news, retail is not out of the woods yet. The pandemic continues to pose huge challenges to the industry, with ongoing stores closures and job losses across the UK. The reopening of shops is an important step on the road to recovery, but with months of rent building up, many shops will be forced to close unless action is taken before the next Quarter Rent Day. The Government must remain open to further action to boost consumer demand and should take steps to support with rent costs or the industry could suffer thousands of avoidable job losses.”
Food & Drink Sector Performance | Susan Barratt, CEO | IGD
“The continued warm weather and further easing of lockdown restrictions contributed to another month of high growth in sales for food and grocery retail. With more opportunities to socialise in the sun and sport back on TV, shoppers have been enjoying BBQs and picnics. However, with more retail and out-of-home outlets now up and running, the sector will find more competition for spending from July.
“While shopper confidence remains low, the easing of lockdown measures and low inflation has resulted in IGD’s Shopper Confidence Index improving for two months in a row with confidence increasing across most regions in June, particularly Scotland. However, as shoppers grapple with the economic impact of COVID-19, confidence continues to be fragile.”
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About the British Retail Consortium
The BRC’s purpose is to make a positive difference to the retail industry and the customers it serves, today and in the future.
Retail is an exciting, dynamic and diverse industry which is going through a period of profound change. The BRC is committed to ensuring the industry thrives through this period of transformation. We tell the story of retail, work with our members to drive positive change and use our expertise and influence to create an economic and policy environment that enables retail businesses to thrive and consumers to benefit. Our membership comprises over 5,000 businesses delivering £180bn of retail sales and employing over one and half million employees.
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