UK retail sales rise again, beat expectations

Marco Green
October 25, 2020

Retail sales in the United Kingdom grew for fifth straight month in September and at a quicker pace than that of August, data from the Office for National Statistics showed Friday.

United Kingdom retail sales rose in September for the fifth consecutive month as they continue to recover from the Covid-19 slump, but analysts sounded a cautious note about the outlook. On the year, sales were up 4.7%, coming in ahead of expectations for a 2.7% jump. However, this was still higher than the 20.1 per cent seen in February.

In the three months to September, retail sales volumes rose 17.4% compared to the previous three months.

Food sales increased with fewer households eating out and non-food stores' sales were above February levels by 1.7%.

The ONS said that the proportion of online sales increased across all sectors in September, with food retailers almost doubling online proportions from 5.4% in February to 10.4% in September.

Growth in retail sales "is beating even the most optimistic expectations" as consumers have increased spending despite pandemic.

DIY and home improvement sales continued improving as families updated their homes, the ONS said.

"Clothing store sales have been slower to recover and fuel sales remain subdued as people continue to work from home and have reduced the amount they travel".

James Smith, a developed markets economist at financial services firm ING, said the British economy regained ground over the summer as business reopened, especially with the retail "almost back to pre-virus levels in June" and having "exceeded them in the months since".

But Pugh added that total consumer spending will "probably start to stutter over the next few months as the furlough scheme ends and unemployment rises, despite the increased generosity of the Job Support Scheme". "Furthermore, it has since been announced that non-essential retailers in Wales will be closed until 9 November".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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