August ONS sales figures show best growth since May offering some hope to embattled retailers before countdown to Christmas

Results from the latest ONS UK retail sales figures show growth for the fourth consecutive month in August amid a week of mixed news for retailers. 

Jacqui Baker, director of retail at RSM, said: ‘The Eat Out to Help Out scheme and staycations failed to boost retail sales figures to the extent that many had hoped in August. Sales value increased by 0.7 per cent when compared with July, with an increase of 2.5 per cent when compared with February’s pre-pandemic levels.

‘Staycations continued the trend in home DIY spending with sales volumes from household goods increasing by 9.9 per cent when compared with pre-lockdown levels, as consumers continued to reach for their paint brushes in earnest.

‘Highstreet fashion continues to suffer with sales still 15.9 per cent below February. It’s clear that the trend for online shopping is now permanently embedded into the consumer psyche. Non-store retailing was 38.9 per cent above February making a sophisticated digital strategy crucial for success in the upcoming golden quarter before Christmas.

‘The results cap a week of mixed news from some of the UK’s biggest retailers with John Lewis scrapping its partner bonus for the first time since 1953, whereas Next announced more resilient than expected half year numbers and the Co-op benefitted from more local shopping during lockdown. Alongside these trading updates, the High Court decision to favour policyholders in the business interruption test case and the government extension of the moratorium on commercial tenant evictions to December, offer some hope for embattled retailers as the countdown to the all-important last quarter begins.’


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