Press releases

Deloitte comments on ONS retail sales

26 March 2021

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

“Modest month-on-month growth across total retail sales (ex. fuel) points to growing optimism as consumers increased their spending despite the UK remaining under lockdown. However, with many still working from home and limited permitted opportunities to meet socially, clothing and footwear sales are below where they should be at the start of a new season.

Record online sales

“February’s announced roadmap out of lockdown will have boosted consumer confidence. At the same time, fewer spending opportunities over the last year has improved savings for some. Those with greater disposable income are poised to spend, with pent-up demand likely to see an enthusiastic return to high streets as restrictions ease.

“In the meantime, consumers continue to spend online, accounting for a record 36.1% of sales this month. Whilst second nature to many consumers, for others the pandemic necessitated a shift to online shopping – one which is now entrenched.

Beware ghosts of Christmas past

“As we edge towards the reopening of physical retail, one cautious tale remains. Those retailers honouring extended Christmas returns for in-store purchases will be opening stores for the first time since the festive period. This is likely to create a lag on the usual January refund period, with some consumers looking to belatedly return unwanted gifts.

Pizza ovens fired up

“Retailers can, however, expect a more prosperous end to the quarter. February’s improved sales could be linked to the reopening of schools, and next week’s easing of private garden gatherings is likely to be reflected in the month ahead. Whilst consumers spent much of 2020 sprucing up their homes, attentions will now turn to outdoor space, with fire pits, pizza ovens, and rattan furniture likely to contribute to March sales.

“Combined with warmer weather, further relaxation of some social gathering rules, and the Easter weekend, March could also see food and DIY purchases drive sales as consumers get together or take on bank holiday home projects.”

Ends

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 deloitte.com/about 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.

For more information, please visit www.deloitte.co.uk.

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