As the rates of Coronavirus rose and many high streets shut, November saw retail sales fall after six months of growth.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics showed supermarkets and food stores post a sales surge of 3.1% and household goods were up by 1.6%, as people were encouraged to stay at home. However, sales in clothing sales plummeted 19% and petrol sales were 16.6% down.
As the country faced another lockdown, online shopping accounted for 31.4% of all spending – a new record high. Online shopping has surged almost 75% since the same period a year earlier.
“In a month where England went back into lockdown and the UK as a whole was subject to tightening restrictions, it’s little surprise that physical retail sales growth stalled in November,” said Lynda Petherick, Head of Retail at Accenture UK.
“However, the show must go on when it comes to Christmas shopping, and some retailers have triumphed by preparing their e-commerce operations for the boom in online sales. Black Friday and early festive shopping continued to stimulate a sector so desperately trying to build recovery momentum.”
Aled Patchett, who is the head of retail at Lloyds Bank, commented on the latest figures: “November’s sales highlight once again the polarising effect of Covid-19 on retail. Sectors like grocery and homeware perform well – and should be expected to have a strong finish to the year – while others including big-name high street brands fall foul of significantly reduced footfall.
“Despite most shoppers having wrapped up their Covid Christmas shopping online this year, shops – particularly in smaller towns – will be hoping that the vaccine rollout inspires greater consumer confidence in the new year as people return to city centres for both work and play,” added Patchett.