Press releases

Deloitte comments on ONS retail sales

23 April 2021

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

“Today’s retail sales figures give us the first year-on-year comparisons since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With non-essential shops closed in March, as they were at the end of March 2020, it is hugely encouraging to see sustained momentum as total sales continued their steady growth.

“As expected, consumers continued to shop online for new purchases in the absence of physical stores, this month accounting for 34.7% of all retail sales, slightly down from the previous month but still considerably higher than March 2020. After an exceptional year for the industry, replete with its own challenges, this is an encouraging indication of the store coming back. Whether the level of online spending will be sustained over the coming months remains to be seen but, for many consumers, online shopping has become as convenient as the physical store experience.

“With the UK recording its warmest March day in over 50 years, the arrival of spring sunshine was perfectly timed with new season collections, giving clothing and footwear sales a small boost. Eagle-eyed consumers may have even spotted the re-appearance of some 2020 collections, as retailers brought back stock impacted by the UK’s first lockdown. This is unlikely to put off consumers, however, many of whom have been buying fewer new products in an effort to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle during COVID-19 pandemic.

Easter celebrations

“The relaxation of outdoor socialising rules and Easter celebrations appear to have boosted food sales this month as consumers made up for smaller Christmas gatherings. As predicted, items to spruce up gardens in preparation for outdoor socialising, and the long bank holiday weekend, have fuelled sales in DIY and homeware this month.

‘Welcome back’ discounting

“The reopening of the High Street on 12th April was received enthusiastically by consumers, as they returned in greater numbers than expected for the time of year, with some retailers offering ‘welcome back’ discounts.

“In the absence of many spending opportunities so far this year, some consumers also returned with deeper pockets than usual as a result of having greater levels of savings.

“As the UK continues to roll out its vaccine programme, we’re likely to see greater numbers return to stores in due course.”


Notes to Editors

About Deloitte

In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NSE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK's leading professional services firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

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