Covid-19: June sales boosted by reopening while online continues surge

eCommerce as a proportion of all retail sales fell slightly to 31.8% in June compared to a record 33.3% in May as high streets reopened on 15 June following 12 weeks of lockdown. But online sales remain significantly higher than pre-Covid levels, with this channel making up 20% of all retail sales February.

This is according to new figures from the ONS, which showed the overall volume of retail sales grew 13.9% in June compared to May as the sector received a boost from the reopening of non-essential stores. And encouragingly, “in June, total retail sales continued to increase to reach similar levels as before the pandemic, with a fall of just 0.6% when compared with February”.

There was significant variation between different areas of retail, with food store sales 5.3% higher than in February, while non-food stores sales declined by 15% compared with February. But in the non-food store category (much of which is designated as non-essential retail), sales grew 45.5% compared to May, demonstrating the effect of the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Online sales continued to surge in June compared with pre-crisis levels, growing 61.9% compared to February. The ONS added: “This was following a stable period of growth up to February, indicating that consumers had shifted to online spending even more so during store closures”.

Commenting on the findings, Silvia Rindone, UK&I retail partner at EY said: “There is some hope on the horizon with sales starting to pick up more across the board. Our own recent research shows a cautious optimism beginning to appear, with consumers feeling more comfortable with spending and going out to shop.”

Lynda Petherick, head of retail for Accenture UK and Ireland added: “June marked another important step on the long road to recovery for the retail sector. As the government takes steps to stimulate the economy and lift consumer sentiment, we’re seeing a welcome boost for physical store sales, although the picture remains mixed. At the same time, online sales remain well above pre-pandemic levels, meaning it’s the brands which have worked on their eCommerce offer these last few months that will emerge stronger as lockdown lifts.”

Photo credit (iStock): Kanawa_Studio