Press releases

Deloitte comments on ONS retail sales

21 May 2021

Commenting on today’s ONS retail sales figures, Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte, said:

“As non-essential shops reopened in April for the first time since early January, consumers returned to a very different High Street. Some familiar brands have gone and shoppers also adjusted to the new, socially distanced shopping experience. Nevertheless, pent-up demand drove an enthusiastic return, particularly in the first few days of reopening, and saw positive momentum in footfall. April’s overall spending by value (ex. fuel) was up both month-on-month (9.1%) and year-on-year (37.9%). However, some of this uplift will be driven by low comparatives from 2020.

A mixed bag

“A ‘mixed bag’ of shoppers returned to stores this month, some with savings due to fewer opportunities to spend since March 2020. Other shoppers made use of extended returns periods to bring back items in-store, even unwanted Christmas gifts. More notably for younger generations, the reopening of non-essential retail – particularly those with limited online presence – also provided the first opportunity go out and revamp wardrobes; perhaps in preparation for further easing on social occasions, large events, and leisure activities.

“Online sales, whilst remaining strong, slowed this month as a proportion of overall sales to 30% – the novelty or leisure value of visiting a store a likely factor. It remains to be seen whether in-store spending and footfall can maintain their momentum despite the cold spring weather. May’s figures are likely to be more indicative of this, at which point we’re likely to see consumers drawn back to town centres with the reopening of indoor hospitality.

Consumer recovery starts here

“Spending is now over pre-pandemic levels. As we phase out of lockdown, consumer trends will closely track the roadmap.

“With travel restrictions recently loosened, for example, consumers could turn their attentions to holiday purchases – be it for UK stays or sunnier climes.”


Notes to editors

About Deloitte

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