Retail Sales Monitor

June in Growth as Stores Reopen

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, BRC: 

“June finally saw a return to growth in total sales, primarily driven by online as a result of lockdown measures being eased and pent up demand being released. Despite footfall still being well below pre-coronavirus levels, average spend was up as consumers made the most of their occasional shopping trips. Computing, furniture and home improvement all continued to do well as the public invested in home comforts and remote working. However, while categories such as food performed strongly, not all retailers can breathe a sigh of relief, with clothing, footwear, and health & beauty still struggling. All eyes are on next month now that pubs, restaurants and cafes have reopened, in the hope it brings a much needed boost to our high streets and shopping centres.

“Though a month of growth is welcome news, retail is not out of the woods yet. The pandemic continues to pose huge challenges to the industry, with ongoing stores closures and job losses across the UK. The reopening of shops is an important step on the road to recovery, but with months of rent building up, many shops will be forced to close unless action is taken before the next Quarter Rent Day. The Government must remain open to further action to boost consumer demand and should take steps to support with rent costs or the industry could suffer thousands of avoidable job losses.”

Paul Martin, Partner, UK Head of Retail, KPMG: 

“June saw pent up consumer demand released, with total sales finally back in positive territory – up 3.4% on the same month last year. While the easing of social distancing restrictions is of course welcome news, the challenges and longer-term consequences for the industry have far from disappeared, and not all categories of retail are benefitting from this post-lockdown boom.

“Food and drink sales have continued to perform strongly, and June’s warmer weather accentuated that further. It also resulted in more Brits purchasing items to make their post-lockdown lives more comfortable, whether that be furniture, toys, or computing equipment.

“Fashion sales haven’t rebounded quite as impressively though, despite reports of increased interest from those prepared to queue to enter stores. Online sales – while still in a high gear – are cooling a little as high street activity picks up again slowly and cautiously. That said, whether consumers will forego the convenience of online shopping now that they’ve become accustom to it, remains a fundamental question for the future.

“Retailers won’t be picking up where they left off and months of reduced or no sales will threaten the survival of many. The pandemic has significantly changed consumer behaviour, it’s therefore vital that routes to market and ways of working are adapted with that fact in mind.”

Food & Drink sector performance, Susan Barratt, CEO, IGD: 

“The continued warm weather and further easing of lockdown restrictions contributed to another month of high growth in sales for food and grocery retail. With more opportunities to socialise in the sun and sport back on TV, shoppers have been enjoying BBQs and picnics. However, with more retail and out-of-home outlets now up and running, the sector will find more competition for spending from July.

“While shopper confidence remains low, the easing of lockdown measures and low inflation has resulted in IGD’s Shopper Confidence Index improving for two months in a row with confidence increasing across most regions in June, particularly Scotland. However, as shoppers grapple with the economic impact of COVID-19, confidence continues to be fragile.”


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