PwC comments on May's ONS retail sales figures

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

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said:

“As we predicted last month, May’s official retail sales numbers were never going to be as bad as April’s record falls, with a headline 12% increase in sales compared to the previous month.

“It is remarkable that, despite the majority of high street shops still being closed, overall retail sales were still only 10% down on the same month last year. This shows the resilience and resourcefulness of both retailers and shoppers in the face of COVID19 restrictions, through either shopping online (+20% vs April) or by essential retailers beginning to reopen safely where possible.

“We fully expect to see this positive momentum continue into June with all eyes on the reopening of non-essential shops in England and Northern Ireland in the past week. The sight of queues outside stores is testament to the fact that, for now, some consumers still have money in their pockets and consumer sentiment continues to be resilient. According to our  research, many retailers have not even needed to resort to big sale promotions to clear their stock.

“However, with the government furlough and self employed income support schemes beginning to taper off in July, the question is whether this positive momentum can last throughout the summer. For some retailers their survival may yet depend on it.”


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