Retail sales quit e-commerce in April with stores reopening – but 41% of UK retailers continue to e-commerce; consumer spending increases by 0.4%

Buyers turned out when stores in Manchester reopened after the lockdown. Image: Anna Mente / Shutterstock

A return to stores and hospitality in April is suggested by retail sales figures released today by the BRC and consumer spending information from Barclaycard. Online sales fell from the previous month, but continue at an even significantly higher level than before the pandemic.

BRC: online sales decrease with store opening

Fewer retail sales took place online in April compared to a year earlier, with non-essential stores reopening from lockdown 3.0, new figures suggest. About 41.5% of sales were online sales in April, up from 68.8% in April 2020, when the first lockdown, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor from April 2021. However, the share of e-commerce remains well up on the 29.7% of online sales in April 2019, according to figures from the BRC.

The research makes two-year comparisons with the pre-pandemic 2019 period to rule out the turmoil of last year and finds that total sales increased 7.3% in April 2021 compared to April 2019. It’s is ahead of the three-month average growth of 6%. Sales increased 46.3% on a like-for-like basis, eliminating the effect of store and retail openings and closings. Online sales, however, have been included – giving e-commerce a bigger impact on like-for-like sales figures than on total sales.

In the three months to April, in-store sales of non-food items fell 30.9% overall – in contrast to a 3.1% drop in sales over the same period in 2019, but sales of LFL rose 1.6% LFL. In contrast, online non-food sales grew 57.4% over the same period, up from 4.3% in 2019. This is below the three-month average growth of 82.5% . Overall, non-food sales improved 25.1% LFL and 2.4% overall. In 2019, non-food sales fell 1.3%.

In the three weeks after the stores reopened, sales of non-food items rose by about a quarter from spending levels the month before, when the lockdown was in effect.

Helen Dickinson, Executive Director of the UK Retail Consortium (BRC), says retail sales had a welcome boost in April, after non-essential stores reopened on April 12. Fashion retailers saw sales improve as shoppers purchased outerwear and knitwear for outdoor gatherings, while furniture sales also increased.

“With pent-up short-term demand for the shopping experience that drew consumers to stores, non-food in-store and online sales increased by a quarter between March and April,” says Dickinson. “It’s great to see customers feel confident in stores, which is a testament to the continued investment by retailers in securing their stores, warehouses and deliveries with Covid.”

She adds, “While the increase in sales is positive as the industry continues to invest in online security and offering, the high streets still have a long way to go on the road to recovery. There are 530,000 people working in the retail trade still on leave. This and the end of full trade tariff relief in England in June is jeopardizing the future of many shops and the livelihoods of those who depend on them. The government must keep its promise to reform the broken rate system in its ongoing review and reduce the financial burden on retailers, or risk more unnecessary store closings and job losses.

KPMG United Kingdom Retail Director Paul Martin says, “Online sales have continued to grow in most categories, but at a slower pace as many consumers have moved away from their computers and into the Internet. outside. It may have come as a surprise, although it shows that some changes in consumer behavior are here to stay.

“Conditions will remain difficult as government support wanes over the summer and interest and repayments on CBILS and rebound loans must begin to be repaid, along with deferred rent payments.” Retailers face an interesting month as they assess the level to which online shopping is declining and the complete reopening of the hospitality industry will likely lead to dilution of retail spending in favor of leisure, entertainment and hospitality. the hotel industry. Retailers are hoping that with growing positive signs that the economy is improving, market conditions offer the possibility of triggering a surge in consumer spending this summer. “

Food sales increased 9.9% LFL in the three months ending April and 10.3% overall. This is ahead of the same period in 2019 where they increased by 1.4%. Susan Barratt, General Manager of the Grocery Analyst IGD says, “The year-over-year impact for supermarkets is difficult to determine due to the different hours of Easter, but weekly data indicates that food and beverage sales have slowed from mid -April, although some momentum was regained towards the end of the month. Inevitably, food and drink will stabilize at a reduced growth rate as the competitive landscape normalizes, but also as the tough 2020 foreclosure comparisons persist over the next few months.

But she says the IGD Buyer Confidence Index is now at its highest level in five years.

Barclaycard: Consumer spending grows, slowly, as shoppers return to stores – and al fresco dining

According to the latest figures from Barclaycard, shoppers have spent a bit more due to the opening of stores and outdoor hospitality in April.

The data, taken from payments processed by Barclaycard, shows consumer spending rose 0.4% in April compared to the same period in 2019, with shoppers spending 10.1% more on essentials and 4, 4% less in non-essentials.

Spending in non-essential stores fell 17.4% from 2019 levels, after 50.5% in March 2021. Spending on stays (+ 15%), take-out and fast food (+ 59.9 %) and in veterinarians and pet stores (+ 32.4%)) have all grown rapidly, but airlines (-82.1%) and travel agencies (-82%) continue to be hit by the restrictions on international travel.

Commenting, Raheel Ahmed, Head of Consumer Products at Barclaycard, says: ‘The easing of restrictions gave a promising boost to a number of sectors in April, as consumer spending returned to growth and confidence in the UK economy to its highest level since the start of the pandemic . Younger shoppers are spending more on clothes as they update their wardrobes in anticipation of socializing and making plans after the lockdown, while older consumers have increased their spending on accommodation and resorts in the UK Uni, by organizing family stays. While there has been a slight improvement in spending in pubs, bars, and restaurants, industry-wide restrictions on outdoor seating, sporadic colder weather and the rule of six have clearly taken hold. slowed down this recovery this month.

“We hope the economy should regain momentum as we head into summer and see indoor hospitality reopen. Still, what is most encouraging is that easing restrictions appear to have boosted the nation’s morale, with many Britons relishing the simple pleasures of dining out and doing social projects.


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About Jessica Zavala

Jessica Zavala

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