Retail figures beat expectations but remain “weak”

    Since the end of the lockdown and the gradual opening of the high street, retail sales have beaten forecasts for June.

    Official figures released from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)on Thursday revealed that goods sold last month surged by an impressive 13.9% – beating the expected 8%.

    However, whilst the statistics show a positive picture, it is worth remembering that Q2 retail sales are still the lowest figure ever recorded.

    Despite the generally low figures, online sales remain strong as for £3 out of every £10 spent by consumers is done so online.

    Clothing stores and department stores were trading 15% lower than they were in February, however, as the non-essential shops opened 15 June trading only accounts for half of the month.

    “Retail continued to recover from the sharp falls seen in April, with overall sales now almost back to pre-pandemic levels. But there are some dramatic differences in sales across the retail industry,” said Jonathan Athow, the ONS deputy national statistician.

    “Food sales continue above their pre-pandemic levels due to the closure of cafes, restaurants and pubs. Online sales have risen to record levels, and now count for £3 in every £10 spent.”

    “On the other hand, clothing sales remain depressed and across the high street sales in non-food stores are down by around one-third on pre-pandemic levels. The latest three months as a whole still saw the weakest quarterly growth on record,” he added.