Retail sales volumes increased for the fifth consecutive month in September, this time by 1.5%, as the market continued its healing considering that the resuming of physical shops in June. September sales likewise represented a 5.5% development compared to pre-pandemic levels in February.
Additionally, there was an increase of 17.4% in the three months to September compared to the previous three-month period.
Online again continued to carry out highly this month, reaching 27.5% of all retail sales. This compares to 20.1% reported in February, although eCommerce volumes have somewhat tailed off given that the resuming of non-essential shops. And a little month-on-month fall in online sales was tape-recorded throughout all categories with the exception of an outlet store, in which a 6% growth was taped. ONS stated this was mainly due to the online pre-ordering of a brand-new series of gaming items.
The figures also showed that the percentage of online food sales in September was almost double that of February.
Overall sales for household product stores were 11% higher than in February, with feedback from these sellers suggesting this was mostly driven by ongoing demand for house enhancement products. Clothing continued to struggle, however, with sales volumes 12.7% lower than in February.
Regardless of the motivating figures, retail could be affected by new Covid-19 limitations to try and suppress rising Covid-19 cases in the development to the crucial Christmas period. This month, the UK government has presented a brand-new three-tier system across England, while brand-new nationwide lockdowns have been presented in both Wales and Ireland, in which non-essential stores will be forced to close for two and six weeks, respectively.
Commenting on the figures, Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte stated: “Retail sales in September rebounded beyond pre-pandemic levels, as both month-on-month values and volumes recovered to 1.4% and 1.5%, respectively. September’s figures will be a welcome increase to merchants that continue to navigate through the continuous Covid-19 pandemic. Despite a troubled six months, September’s sales likewise mark a year-on-year improvement, up 3.4% by worth.”
He added: “Online trade, whilst slowing by -1.2% this month, remains 53% above year-on-year comparables, with web orders representing 27.5% of overall retail sales. As the nine-week countdown to Christmas starts, retailers will be keen to keep online momentum and guarantee distribution can continue to cope throughout the joyful season. As a result, we might see earlier-than-ever discounting from retailers, attracting consumers to expand their Christmas shopping and consequently stage demand over a longer, more manageable duration. For some retailers, Black Friday will be a crucial supply chain ‘dress rehearsal’ for a progressively online Christmas.”