Slight eCommerce dip in July following high street reopening

UK online retail sales grew 81.2% in July compared with last year, which is a small dip compared to the previous three months of consecutive 100%+ like-for-like increases, according to the BDO’s latest High Street Sales Tracker (HSST).

This is likely due to the recent reopening of non-essential stores following the easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. eCommerce continued to perform well however, with the accelerated shift to this channel during Covid-19 continuing.

In-store sales fell for the sixth consecutive month according to the tracker, dampening hopes of a quick recovery for the high street. The reduction was 39.4% compared with July 2019.

More encouragingly, a slight improvement in high-street footfall was observed throughout the month, growing from -58.4% in the first week to -44.8% by the end of July.  

In fashion, there was a fifth consecutive month of negative growth in in-store sales, falling by 50% in July. And in-store lifestyle sales fell by 35.4%, the sixth consecutive month of decline.

Homeware saw a rise of 5.4% in in-store sales in July, which follows a 25.5% increase in June.

Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO LLP, commented: “July has marked yet another difficult month for struggling retailers. Despite initial optimism that the reopening of stores would see the high street bounce back, the July results tell a more difficult story. The reality is that footfall remains dismal, and some retailers opted for a more gradual approach to opening their estates last month while social distancing measures also continued to restrict capacity in-store.

She added: “It is clear that the retail sector is essential to the broader economic recovery. With more high street chains at risk and further job losses predicted, recovery looks a long way off. The high street is crying out for a confidence boost but with the full impact of coronavirus on the UK economy yet to be realised, uncertainty will prevail for the foreseeable future.”

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