// Total retail sales rise in March despite many categories remaining in decline
// Grocery emerged as the strongest category
// Fashion and beauty “remain in double digit decline compared to pre-pandemic levels”
New research has found that retail sales have climbed in March despite many categories remaining in decline.
Grocery sales have driven total retail sales in March, the BRC-KPMG Sales Monitor found.
Total sales advanced 8.3 per cent in March versus the same period in 2019. The data has been compared to that from two years ago in order to enable more accurate analysis.
Like-for-like sales rose 8.4 per cent on the same basis.
“The pandemic has concentrated spend on home-centric categories such as food, computing and home appliances,” the BRC said.
Key categories such as fashion and beauty “remain in double digit decline compared to pre-pandemic levels”.
Over the three months to March on a two-year basis, in-store sales of non-food products fell 44.4 per cent in total and 44 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
Meanwhile, online non-food sales rose 94 per cent on a two-year basis.
“As we pass the one-year anniversary of the first lockdown, the retail industry has generally remained strong, despite numerous challenges,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
She said the sales rise was “largely driven” by grocery spending and that, ”with many stores still closed, online purchases reached the highest on record, particularly for TVs, gaming consoles and laptops”.
“Despite some product ranges trading well, the next six months will be make or break for many retailers.
“Over the past three lockdowns, non-food retail stores have lost £30 billion, so many retailers will be relying on growing consumer confidence, and a return to town and city centres to fuel their recovery.
”Retail businesses have spent hundreds of millions making their stores Covid-secure, so customers can feel safe and confident whilst shopping.”