Retail sales soar by 10 per cent in May following easing of restrictions

Retail sales soared in May as the further easing of lockdown restrictions helped to drive spending.

Retail is bouncing back according to new figures.
Retail is bouncing back according to new figures.

The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG retail sales monitor revealed that total sales surged by 10 per cent in May, against the same period in 2019, after the sector benefited from the first month that non-essential stores fully reopened and the return of many hospitality venues.

It came as separate data from Barclaycard revealed that consumer spending jumped 7.6 per cent for the month as increased socialising helped to spark clothing sales.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the reopening of many retailers in April and May helped increase sales but highlighted that non-food store sales were still in decline in May, against the same month two years ago.

Over the three months to May, in-store non-food sales were down by 16.7 per cent.

However, for the same period, food sales increased by 9.8 per cent as grocery sales continued to be boosted by restrictions on the hospitality sector.

And the data also showed that it was online sales which continue to drive retail growth. In May, non-food online sales jumped by 39.1 per cent.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Retail sales were buoyant in May thanks to the reopening of hospitality, coupled with the afterglow of non-essential retail’s own return.

“Pent-up demand for the in-store shopping experience, as well as the first signs of summer weather, helped retail to the strongest sales growth of the pandemic.

“Furniture and homeware sales continued to perform well as consumers were able to see and feel items in-store, while clothing and footwear saw their second consecutive month of growth due to the warmer weather and easing of social restrictions.”