Euro 2020 delivers boost for retail sales but clothes stores slip back

July 23, 2021

Football fans stocking up in supermarkets delivered a boost to the UK retail sector last month but fashion stores suffered a setback, official figures show.

Retail sales volumes rose by 0.5% in June having dipped the month before, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The biggest contribution to the increase came from food stores, where sales rose 4.2% "with anecdotal evidence suggesting these increased sales may be linked with the start of the Euro 2020 football championship", the ONS said.

But sales were down by 1.7% at non-food stores - the first decline since January.

Clothing stores reported a fall of 4.7% and for department stores sales were down by 3.6%.

The report also echoed recent industry data showing that the share of retail sales made online has declined - down from 28.4% in May to 26.7% in June - but remains well above pre-pandemic levels.

Overall sales numbers have already recovered from pre-pandemic levels and last month were 9.5% where they were in February 2020.

But that masks the fact that much of the trade is now conducted on the internet rather than on high streets.

Meanwhile fuel sales, which increased by 2.3% in June, remain 2.1% lower than where they were before lockdowns stopped many motorists' regular use of their cars.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said the ONS figures showed continued strong demand from consumers boosted by food and drink sales to football fans.

"However, headline growth masks declines in other non-food categories, with household goods sales suffering their first non-lockdown driven decline since the start of the pandemic, as people started to spend more time out of the home; and sales in the hardest-hit clothing category again slipping below pre-pandemic levels," she added.

"So the post-pandemic retail recovery will likely remain fragile for the rest of the summer, as government support schemes begin to wind down, and the booming grocery sector sees operational and supply challenges from the current 'pingdemic'."

The figures come as a the closely-watched GfK consumer confidence barometer showed it returning to pre-lockdown levels.

The reading of -9 was still in negative territory but higher than where it was in March 2020.

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