Retail sales jump almost 14% as shoppers return to high street

Making masks mandatory in shops is

United Kingdom retail sales surged back nearly to pre-coronavirus lockdown levels in June, according to the latest data from The Office for National Statistics (ONS), as non-essential stores in England reopened and gave beleaguered clothing stores a boost.

British retail sales rebounded nearly 14 per cent in June as non-essential shops reopened from lockdown, extending May's 12-per cent gains after tumbling in April, official data showed today.

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said: "Retail continued to recover from the sharp falls seen in April, with overall sales now nearly back to pre-pandemic levels".

"The two monthly increases in the volume of retail sales in May and June 2020 have brought total sales to a similar level as before the coronavirus pandemic", said the ONS.

Overall UK retail sales had slumped by a record 18 per cent in April after the country entered full lockdown on March 23.

"On the other hand, clothing sales remain depressed, and across the high street sales in non-food stores are down by around one third on pre-pandemic levels". This reflection in June's figures signals a much-needed, albeit careful, step in the right direction for retailers.

E-commerce sales more than doubled year over year, with a 110.8 per cent increase compared with May 2019.

Mr Athow said they had fallen so far that "virtually any pick-up will look like a big number".

The proportion of online spending reduced to 31.8% in June when compared with the record 33.3% reported in May, but is a considerable increase from the 20.0% reported in February.

Meanwhile, a survey measuring new orders, employment and business sentiment in the services and manufacturing sectors indicated a return to growth during June.

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The sum of items offered final month increased by 13.9% in contrast to Could, according to the Place of work for National Data (ONS).

The "flash" - or preliminary - Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), compiled by IHS Markit and CIPS, rose to 57.1 in July, up sharply from 47.7 last month.

It was the first time since February that it was above 50, indicating expansion.

There's a tiny chink of light for sellers who don't have an online presence.

Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said: "The retail sector bounced back as the reopening of shops released pent-up demand for some retailers".

Market research firm GfK found consumer confidence at -27.

Silvia Rindone, retail partner at EY, said the latest figures showed there was "some hope on the horizon", with consumers beginning to show "a cautious optimism".

But she included: "We are still not past the pandemic and obtaining again to "normal" will even now consider time".

"With facial area coverings now obligatory in England's outlets, bodily stores will need to keep on to aim on reassuring customers".

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