PwC Comments on February 2021 ONS retail sales figures

26/03/21

Commenting on the Office of National Statistics retail sales figures for February 2021

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said:

“February’s retail sales showed some relief for the beleaguered sector, with a 2% improvement on January’s performance, and overall sales just -1.6% lower than this time last year, excluding fuel. This is a particularly creditable outcome given the comparable period was the last month before the UK’s first lockdown - closing non-essential retailers - a first in living memory.

“There are signs that consumers are getting used to the realities of life under lockdown, with online sales hitting yet another high of 36.1% of total retail sales. Home and DIY products continued to flourish as we all spent more enforced time within our four walls, as well as looking forward to being allowed to have visitors in gardens from next week.

“As we edge towards the re-opening of non-essential stores after Easter, retailers will be hoping that the wave of optimism sweeping consumers as a result of the successful vaccine rollout will translate into increased sales. This is particularly true of categories like fashion that continue to languish at half the levels of this time last year, with few reasons yet to buy a new outfit.

“February will also be the last month before comparing to Covid affected months, so March is certain to bring some relative relief for non-essential retailers.”

 

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