How UK retail sales grew in February despite lockdown

Retail sales returned to growth in February even outpacing the same month last year but many non-essential retailers will be pinning their hopes on April when lockdown restrictions begin to lift, according to a leading sales monitor.

Lockdowns have impacted the retail sector.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor found that on a total basis sales increased by 1 per cent in February, against a growth of 0.1 per cent in February 2020.

UK retail sales increased 9.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis from February 2020, when they had decreased 0.4 per cent from the preceding year.

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Over the three months to February, instore sales of non-food items declined 38.9 per cent on a total basis and 21.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis. This was better than the 12-month total average decline of 31.4 per cent.

For February, the like-for-like excluding temporarily closed stores remained in decline.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of BRC, said: “February saw a return to growth after a disappointing start to the year.

"The Prime Minister’s roadmap to reopening prompted a burst in spending on non-food items, such as school uniforms.

"Furthermore, with another month of lockdown still to go, online sales were high, rewarding the retailers who have invested digitally.

"Couples staying home for Valentine’s Day found themselves splashing out at their local supermarket, benefitting food sales.

"Meanwhile, the continued closure of so-called ‘non-essential’ retail has meant that non-food instore sales remained significantly down, underlining the importance of a successful reopening in April.

“Many retail businesses will be hoping that customers will return to shops, and have spent hundreds of millions on making their premises Covid-secure, but previous reopenings have shown that demand can be slow to come back.

"Government has a vital role to play in building up consumer confidence across the country to power the spending-led recovery.”

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