Retail sales rise for 5th month in a row

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Shoppers turn on to online spending as retail sales rise for fifth month
The ONS said figures were boosted by the continuing shift to online retail, which saw 27.5 per cent of sales taking place online, compared with 20.1 per cent in February, the ONS said.
// Overall growth in sales volumes up 5.5% in Sept compared with Feb’s pre-pandemic level
// In the 3 months to Sept, overall retail sales volumes increased by 17.4% – the biggest quarterly increase on record

Shoppers have continued to increase their spending, with the amount of products bought increasing for the fifth consecutive month in September, according to the ONS.

Overall growth in sales volumes – rather the amount spent – was up 5.5 per cent last month compared with February’s pre-pandemic level.

Meanwhile in the three months ending September, overall retail sales volumes increased by 17.4 per cent compared with the previous three months – making it the biggest quarterly increase on record.


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The figures were boosted by the continuing shift to online retail, which saw 27.5 per cent of sales taking place online, compared with 20.1 per cent in February, the ONS said.

Food sales increased with fewer households eating out although non-food stores’ sales were still above February levels by 1.7 per cent.

Supermarkets are expected to benefit further, with new local Covid-19 restrictions hitting pubs and restaurants hardest.

The ONS said DIY and home improvement sales continued improving as families updated their homes.

Meanwhile, clothing sales volumes remained 12.7 per cent below pre-pandemic levels and there are concerns fashion retailers would continue to struggle and could miss out as restrictions limit the Christmas party season.

“The retail recovery remains fragile as the industry enters the all-important Christmas period, with November and December typically accounting for over a fifth of annual sales,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“While food and online retail continued to show strong growth, high street shopping has struggled in recent months, with footfall still down by over a third.

“Tighter government restrictions have taken their toll on fashion and beauty sales, while home office and computing equipment has benefited.”

Retail Economics chief executive Richard Lim said: “Growth in retail sales is beating even the most optimistic expectations.

“Consumers have proved extremely resilient as cancelled holidays, fewer trips out and less commuting have boosted discretionary spending power to the benefit of some parts of the retail sector.

“Christmas 2020 is going to be like no other and we’re also likely to be seeing signs of consumers starting their Christmas shopping earlier.

“It’s not hard to imagine scenes of queues outside of shopping centres (limiting shopper numbers), queues outside shops, queues inside shops and frustrated shoppers.”

with PA Wires

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