Retail sales up 2.1%

Retail sales grew 2.1% in February compared to the previous month due to garden furniture sales.

Ahead of the return of outdoor socialising, people are spending more on DIY products to improve their homes and gardens.

“Despite national restrictions, retail sales partially recovered from the hit they took in January,” said Jonathan Athow, the deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS.

“Food and department stores benefited from essential retail remaining open, with budget-end department stores seeing increased sales.”

“Household goods also fared well, with feedback suggesting spending on home improvement and outdoor products boosted sales as consumers prepared for an easing of lockdown restrictions.”

“However, clothing stores continue to struggle with sales down more than half on their pre-pandemic level,” he added.

Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, commented:

“The tantalising prospect of being able to share a garden with friends and family has helped bump retail sales up slightly after the January slump,” Hewson said.

“Household goods sales were up 16% mainly thanks to purchases of outdoor products as gardens get a makeover ahead of lockdown restrictions easing. Unsurprisingly online sales from those retailers received the biggest boost, a record monthly bump for the sector of almost 36%.”