Retail sales surged past their pre-coronavirus level in July, the first full month that shops selling non-essential goods were open since the country went into lockdown in March.

Volumes increased by 3.6% when compared with June, and are 3.0% above pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.

Clothing store sales were the worst hit during the pandemic and volume sales in July remained 25.7% lower than February, even with a July 2020 monthly increase of 11.9% in this sector while online retail sales fell by 7.0% in July when compared with June, but the strong growth experienced over the pandemic has meant that sales are still 50.4% higher than February’s pre-pandemic levels.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

“The latest ONS sales results mask a crisis under way in some parts of the retail industry. While food and online have shown growth, the hustle and bustle of shoppers and workers has yet to return to major town and city centres, continuing to impact sales significantly in those locations. In-store non-food sales were down over £1.6bn per week during lockdown and July’s uplift reported by the ONS doesn’t make up for that lost ground.

“The survival of many retail businesses hangs in the balance. Some retailers haven’t been able to pay their rent for the period where they were required to close for our national benefit and numbers of job losses and shop closures are rising. Unless another viable solution is found, the Government should extend the moratorium on aggressive landlord debt enforcement beyond September.”


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