UK retailers rebound in Q2 as economy reopens
British retailers saw their highest annual increase in sales in the three months to the end of June, despite the large number of store closures experienced in the previous year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The British Royal Consortium (BRC), whose members include large, high street chains and supermarkets, announced on Tuesday that sales in the second quarter of 2021 were 28.4% higher than the previous year’s and 10.4% higher than the year prior that.
The year-on-year increase was the highest that had been recorded since the BRC began their records in 1995.
In a statement, BRC chief executive said that “The gradual unlocking of the UK economy encouraged a release of pent-up demand.”
Although supermarkets remained operational throughout the pandemic, other “non-essential” retailers such as clothing stores had been closed for most of the year before opening again on April 12. The date of the reopening of other stores varied in other parts of the country.
Total sales in June alone stood 13.1% higher than two years earlier, in comparison with May’s 10.0% growth. Compared with the previous year, sales went up 10.4% on a total basis and 6.7% on a like-for-like basis which adjusts for changes in floor space.
Data released on Monday for early July revealed an underwhelming number of shoppers during the final week of the Euro 2020, where England lost against Italy.
Consumer spending was also up in June and soared 11.1% higher compared to June 2019, according to payments processor Barclaycard’s measure. The same measure also revealed a 7.6% increase in spending for May.
Spending at pubs and bars also rose by 38% compared to two years ago, the highest gain since September, while food and drink specialist stores’ sales skyrocketed by 76%.