New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown retail sales to reach pre-pandemic levels over July.

Sales grew 3.6% in July despite the 7% fall in online sales. Sales in clothing stores and petrol rose significantly between June and July, which were among the worst-hit during the pandemic.

Sales in clothing surged by over 11%, however, still remain 25.7% lower than sales in February. For fuel, sales rose by 26.2% but also remain lower than pre-pandemic levels.

The ONS said: “In July, fuel sales continued to recover from low sales levels but were still 11.7% lower than February; recent analysis shows that car road traffic in July was around 17 percentage points lower compared with the first week in February, according to data from the Department for Transport.”

Whilst online sales may have fallen 7% between June and July, they still remain 50.4% higher than February and pre-pandemic levels.

While retail sales appear to recover, the UK continues to be in its worst recession on record and UK government public debt has hit a record £2tn. 

Borrowing between April – July is “the highest borrowing in any April to July period” since records began in 1993, whilst debt has reached 100.5% of GDP, a figure not seen since 1961.