One year on – ONS retail sales up and visits to the high street increasing

Retail sales volume increased slightly by 2.1 per cent in February 2021 following on from a slump in sales in January (decrease by 8.2 per cent), and slight growth of 0.3 per cent seen over the Christmas period in December.  

This latest ONS release comes at a time when footfall on highstreets is increasing, however the February figures still show fluctuation in sub-sectors. Household goods stores provided the largest positive contribution in sales volumes with a 16.1 per cent growth from the previous month, while clothing retailers continued to report declines, which have now reached a 50.4 per cent drop in volume when compared to pre-pandemic levels in February 2020. 

RSM’s Retail Director, Jacqui Baker, has responded to the latest ONS retail sales for February 2021. She said:

‘February retail sales failed to release much of the savings the nation has built up during lockdown with growth remaining stunted. Online continued to dominate the proportion of sales and with the nation stuck at home, homeware and DIY sales continued to perform strongly. With key social events including Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day all taking place at home the food sector has performed well in the three months to February and was also up on the year.

‘I expect more positive news for retailers in March following the Prime Minister’s roadmap and news of half of all UK adults now having received their first vaccine dose. Already this positivity is translating into increased footfall on highstreets despite the continued closure of all non-essential stores. A boost to sales in March must surely follow as consumers prepare for their release in April. Hopefully bringing some much needed spend to clothing and accessories.'

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