September 24, 2020
Retail sales volumes increased by 0.8% in August 2020, when compared with July. This was the fourth consecutive month of growth, resulting in an increase of 4.0% when compared with February’s pre-pandemic level. Retail sales values also increased 0.7% when compared with July and 2.5% when compared with February.
Despite total levels of sales increasing to above pre-pandemic levels, the pandemic has changed the shape of the retail industry as not all stores experienced this bounce back. Non-store retailing volumes were 38.9% above February, while clothing stores were still 15.9% below February’s pre-pandemic levels. Wave 12 of The Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey (BICS) revealed that the highest percentage of businesses reporting decreased footfall were textile, clothing, and footwear stores at 85.7%.
There was an increase in spending on food and drink items in March as sales were 12.1% higher than in February. However, 51.5% of food stores reported a decrease in footfall from 10 to 23 August, because other food and drink outlets, such as bars and restaurants, reopened in July. Businesses reopening in July, also resulted in less online spending in August. Consequently, online retail sales value fell by 2.5% in August when compared with July; but the strong growth experienced over the pandemic meant that sales were still 46.8% higher than February’s pre-pandemic levels.
Household goods stores were not negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Spending for home improvements continued to rise in August as sales volumes within household goods stores increased by 9.9% when compared with February. Partly this is attributable to the exemption of these stores to the lockdown rules imposed on other non-essential store types.
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