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PwC comments on July 2020 ONS retail sales figures

Commenting on the Office of National Statistics Retail sales figures for July 2020

Kien Tan, Senior Retail Advisor at PwC UK, said:

“July’s retail sales continued the positive trajectory we saw in June, which was the first full month that all non-essential shops were open nationwide. In value terms, retail sales were 3.7% above this time last year, and more than 25% higher than three months ago during the middle of the lockdown.

Once again, consumers have shown a willingness to spend in stores, due to a combination of pent up demand and relatively resilient consumer confidence. The reopening of leisure facilities at the start of the month will also have contributed to increased footfall on Britain’s high streets, with the proportion of retail sales online dipping below 30% for the first time since the start of the lockdown.

However, not all parts of retail have shared in this success. While supermarkets, household goods stores and most speciality retail categories are now trading comfortably above pre-pandemic levels, fashion retailers are trading over 25% lower than before the lockdown. This reflects the lower demand for workwear, formalwear and special occasion outfits.

While two months of robust retail sales figures are good news for much of the high street, as the government furlough scheme comes to an end and unemployment rises, the question is whether this performance can be sustained for the rest of the year.

The seismic shift to online shopping and reduced demand for fashion certainly see no sign of reversing in the short term.”


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