'Fragile recovery' as retail sales edge up
By Rob Freeman | 18th September 2020
DIY and household goods have continued to provide the cornerstone of increasing retail sales across the UK.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed sales were up 0.8 per cent between July and August and are now four per cent higher than February, the last full month before lockdown restrictions were introduced.
The increase for August was smaller than the 3.6 per cent growth in July - when many shops reopened after lockdown - with online sales falling 2.5 per cent on the previous month.
Online retail, however, remains 46.8 per cent higher than February's figures.
Household goods were helped by the ongoing lockdown demand for home improvement and August's figures were 9.9 per cent up on those in February.
But sales in clothing shops was 15.9 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels as the high street continues to come under strain.
British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "It is clear that the retail industry is entering a period of fragile recovery with August showing the third consecutive month of growth.
"The recovery remains a mixed bag with high growth in online sales while city centre shops suffered as a result of low footfall.
"With further lockdowns looming, the Government must provide clarity on the impact it will have for shops."
She continued: "Retailers have invested hundreds of millions making stores safe and secure for customers during the pandemic. As such, retail remains a safe space for consumers, even under local lockdowns."
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