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Industry News

Published on September 17th, 2021 | by The GC Team

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Retail sales decline cushioned by online rise

“…shoppers were quick to return to the internet to beat High Street shortages”

Retail sales volumes fell by 0.9% in August, but were 4.6% higher than their pre-pandemic February 2020 levels, the Office for National Statistics said today.

The fall followed a 2.8% drop in July.

Volumes, however, were up by 0.3% in the three months to August compared with the previous three months, and given the widely publicised supply chain disruptions the decline was relatively moderate.

An unexpected month-on-month rise of 1.5% in online sales cushioned the fall somewhat and showed, according to one commentator, “shoppers were quick to return to the internet to beat High Street shortages”.

Across businesses in the retail industry 6.5% reported they were unable to obtain the materials, goods or services needed from within the UK in the last two weeks. This compared with 7.1% across all industries. Department stores reported the largest percentage at 18.2%.

Another 8.9% of businesses in the retail industry reported they were able to get the materials, goods or services they needed from within the UK in the last two weeks, but had to change suppliers or find alternative solutions.

Food store sales volumes fell by 1.2%, with some evidence to suggest the further easing of hospitality restrictions had an impact on sales.  Non-food stores reported a decline of 1.0% driven by a 3.7% fall in department stores.

The proportion of retail sales online rose to 27.7% from 27.1% in July, substantially higher than the 19.7% in February 2020 before the pandemic.

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