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UK retail sales post strong quarter results as restrictions ease

The lack of tourism and people working from home remain concerns for retail firms

UK retail sales rose at the quickest rate since records began during Q2, as restrictions were eased across the UK.

Other factors, including the European football championships and pent-up demand gave an additional boost to figures which were released today.

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The British Retail Consortium, when carrying out its monthly update, said retail sales were 13.1% higher in June when compared to the same month in 2019, before the pandemic. Over the whole of Q2, retail sales increased by 10.4% compared to the second quarter of 2019.

Restrictions on foreign holidays also meant that money would be spent on retail purchases within the UK as an alternative for those seeking to enjoy themselves without travelling abroad.

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

“The second quarter of 2021 saw exceptional growth as the gradual unlocking of the UK economy encouraged a release of pent-up demand built up over previous lockdowns. In June, while growth in food sales begun to slow, non-food sales were bolstered by growing consumer confidence and the continued unleashing of consumer demand.”

“With many people taking staycations, or cheaper UK-based holidays, many have found they have a little extra to spend at the shops, with strong growth in-store in June. Fashion and footwear did well while the sun was out in the first half of June, while the start of Euro 2020 provided a boost for TVs, snack food and beer,” she added.

Despite the positivity around the announcement, some challenges remain, as many businesses are attempting to make up for lost time. The lack of tourists arriving from abroad and people carrying on working from homes means that many cities are seeing fewer people walk by.

“Consumer comfort with the next stage of the roadmap will be key to the ongoing success of retail. Many customers are looking forward to a return to a more normal shopping experience, while others may be discouraged by the change in face covering rules. The government will need to reassure the public on safety, while pushing forward with its hugely successful vaccination programme,” Dickinson said.

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