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UK retail sales start to recover in June, department stores beat specialists

Published
Jul 24, 2020
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Official data on Friday showed that June’s retail sales volumes rose 13.9% month-on-month in June, while values rose 13.6%, “as non-food and fuel stores continue their recovery from the sharp falls experienced since the start of the coronavirus pandemic”.


Non-essential stores sales remain below historic norms but are recovering, the ONS said



Successive monthly volume increases during May and June have actually brought total sales to “a similar level as before the coronavirus pandemic," according to the Office for National Statistics. However, there’s a mixed picture in different store types.

In June, while non-food stores showed strong monthly volume growth at 45.5%, levels “have still not recovered from the sharp falls experienced in March and April”.

Total retail sales figures are still down year-on-year with June volumes down 1.6% and values down 3.2%. But this does nonetheless show sales getting slowly back to normal. 

The ONS also said the proportion of online spending as part of the total spend reduced to 31.8% in June when compared with the record 33.3% reported in May, but is a “considerable increase” from the 20% reported in February.

That said, online sales values were up 53.6% in June compared to the last ‘normal’ month (February) and they rose 1.1% compared to May, which is a surprise given that non-essential shops reopened last month.

Those non-essential stores were among the hardest hit during the pandemic for obvious reasons. Despite strong month-on-month sales growth in June, they remain below historical levels and compared with February were down 15% by volume and 15.9% by value last month.

As far as value was concerned that total 15.9% drop translates into a 32.8% fall for non-essential physical shops and a 73.3% rise for webstores.

Meanwhile, based on that same metric, department stores have fallen 5.2% since February with their shops down 28.3% and their e-stores up 111.3%. And textile, clothing & footwear specialists are down 34.9% overall with shops down 50.8% and webstores up 26.8%. Department stores clearly fared better than specialists during the pandemic.

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