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Fashion helps drive surge in April retail sales

By Huw Hughes

21 May 2021


Image: Pexels

Strong shopper demand for fashion helped drive a surge in retail sales in the UK in April as the country eased restrictions after months of lockdown.

According to The Office for National Statistics (ONS), retail sales volumes increase sharply by 9.2 percent month-on-month in April, as non-essential retailers were permitted to reopen from April 12 in England and Wales, from April 26 in Scotland and from April 30 in Northern Ireland.

Non-food stores performed particularly well, with a 69.4 percent increase in sales volumes at clothing stores as shoppers looked to update their wardrobe for post-lockdown life.

Overall retail sales volumes were 42.4 percent higher than in April 2020, during the country’s first national lockdown. Compared to February 2020, before the lockdown, the volume of retail sales was up 10.6 percent.

Clothing sales up almost 70 percent in April

Unsurprisingly, all retail sectors reported a fall in their proportions of online sales as physical stores reopened. The total proportion of sales online decreased to 30 percent in April 2021, down from 34.7 percent in March 2021.

In February, that proportion was 36.1 percent, the highest on record, capping a year in which online retail boomed as the pandemic put a stop to physical shopping.

In the three months to April 2021, the volume of sales increased by 2.6 percent when compared with the previous three months.

“Pent-up demand built up during lockdown continues to be released as the reopening of ‘non-essential’ retail offered the public a welcomed opportunity to visit many of their favourite shops,” said British retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson in a statement.

She said that improved weather last month helped fashion sales, especially in outerwear and knitwear categories as shoppers planned to meet up with friends and family.

“Online sales also continued to perform strongly, rewarding those retailers who had invested in their online and delivery operations during the pandemic,” she added.