The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the figures for April, highlighting the impact that easing coronavirus restrictions has had on the retail industry.
What do the ONS retail findings highlight?
Retail sales volumes showed a monthly increase of 9.2%, demonstrating the effect of non-essential retail reopening from the 12th April in England and Wales and from the 26th April in Scotland. The largest contribution to this monthly growth was from clothing stores (69.4%) and other non-food stores (25.3%).
April 2021’s retail sales volumes were 42.4% higher than they were in April 2020, however this does not paint the most reliable picture of the industry. The reason for this is that April 2020’s statistics were particularly low, being heavily impacted by the first national lockdown and the industry’s lack of time to prepare alternative retail solutions. To put it into perspective, April 2021’s retail sales volumes were 10.6% higher than February 2020, before COVID-19 impacted the industry.
Online sales decreased in every retail sector throughout April, dropping from 34.7% in March to 30% in April this year. This drop was anticipated by many, as consumers have gone instore to make their purchases since shops have reopened their doors. Despite shoppers choosing to utilise instore shopping, the demand for ecommerce has continued, suggesting that the convenience of online retail and importance of retailers utilising online channels is here to stay.
In the three months to April 2021, sales volumes increased by 2.6% in comparison to the previous three months. Department stores had the greatest growth, increasing by 9.9% over this time period.
One of the most significant findings was that in April 2021, non-store retailing (retailers with no physical store presence) reported a 56% growth in comparison to the figures in April 2019. Again, this could signify the shift in retail, as more retailers focus on ecommerce.