Retail sales roar back as shoppers rush to spend again

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Retail sales have seen the best growth for twenty years thanks to a combination of pent-up demand, good weather and football.


High street sales jumped by 28.4% in the three months April-June compared to a year ago, said the British Retail Consortium.


It was the strongest quarter of growth ever recorded and a 10.4% improvement on 2019 pre the pandemic, added the BRC.


Non-essential stores reopened late in April and this sparked a wave of shopping, added the trade body.


Helen Dickinson, chief executive, said: “The second quarter of 2021 saw exceptional growth as the gradual unlocking of the UK economy encouraged a release of pent-up demand built up over previous lockdowns.”


June on its own recorded a 13.1% increase on two years ago, said Dickinson.


“In June, while growth in food sales began to slow, non-food sales were bolstered by growing consumer confidence and the continued unleashing of consumer demand.”


The start of the football competiton Euro 2020 also sparked a rush for beer, TVs and snacks.


There was some caution from the BRC over how the sector would cope with the full reopening of the economy.


Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed yesterday that the government intends to push ahead with the 19 July date for restrictions to be lifted, in spite of medical concerns about the surge of new infections in the UK.


The British Medical Association described the plan as ‘irresponsible’ and said the government was throwing ‘caution to the wind’ by scrapping all the restrictions at once.


Dickinson added that reopening would be a challenge with confusion over face-covering rules one of the issues facing shopkeepers.


“Many customers are looking forward to a return to a more normal shopping experience, while others may be discouraged by the change in face-covering rules,” said the BRC chief.


Figures from Barclaycard, meanwhile, showed total consumer spending rose by 11.1% in June, with a 38% jump at pubs and bars as reopening led to people taking holidays in the UK.

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