UK retail sales rebound as snacks come home during Euros

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Football fans munching snacks during Euro 2020 gave retail sales a boost in June, the Office of National Statistics said today.


Sales rose by 0.5% compared to May and by 9.5% over the period pre-the pandemic in February 2020.


Food sales led the rebound with a 4.2% rise in June after being been knocked in May with the reopening of pubs, bars and restaurants.


It was the biggest rise in food sales since people started to stock up ahead of pandemic lockdown, said the ONS.


Other areas suffered, though, with clothing sales down by 4.2% and household goods slipping 10.9%.


The ONS said: “Feedback from some retailers suggested that sales were positively boosted in June by the start of the Euro 2020 football championship.”


Sales of petrol and diesel rose by 2.3% “as people continued to increase their amount of travel”.


The reopening of the economy was also reflected in online sales, which accounted for the lowest share of spending since the start of pandemic at 26.7% compared to 28.4% in May.


Martin Beck, senior economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said: “A rise in retail sales in June bucked predictions of a drop and regained some of May’s significant decline. But a boost to food sales linked with the start of the Euro 2020 football championship suggests temporary factors played a role.


“Looking ahead, an unwinding of COVID-19-driven changes in consumption is likely to hold back retail growth, as might a hit to sentiment from rising infections. But consumer spending is still on course for a strong rebound.”


Capital Economics added: “In one sense, a soft retail sales report is encouraging if it means that the recent loosening in COVID-19 restrictions means households are spending their money in pubs, restaurants and cinemas instead.


But other evidence suggests that non-retail spending may have come off the boil too, perhaps partly due to the resurgence of the virus.


“We recently pushed back our forecast of when GDP will return to its February 2020 peak from August to October. The risk is that the virus and the pandemic mean it will take GDP longer to reach than landmark.”

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