April retail sales surged 9.2% due to store reopening

Main street

Main street

The surge in clothing spending last month helped boost retail sales as blockades were eased and insignificant stores reopened.

April retail sales surged 9.2%. The National Bureau of Statistics (ONS) said, Clothing sales have skyrocketed by nearly 70% compared to March.

Although online sales fell, overall sales were more than 10% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Economist Paul Dale’s called the surge in clothing sales “amazing.”

The April data “showed that households are particularly keen on updating their wardrobe,” said the British economist, chief of Capital Economics.

Further evidence of a recovery in the UK economy was obtained in another study, IHS / Markit Purchasing Managers’ IndexThis suggests that private sector activity in May expanded at the fastest pace for over 20 years.

“Pent-up demand”

Retailers such as clothing and furniture stores, which the government has classified as non-essential, closed in early January and then reopened to British shoppers on April 12.

Aled Jones, head of retail at Lloyds Bank, said: [were] The final beer garden beneficiaries have resumed and the night of the “Six Rules” is back. “

“Consumer demand has increased significantly,” said Silvia Rindone, retail leader at EY UK & Ireland.

“Sales are growing in most categories as consumers aspire to return to the in-store shopping experience and indulge in retail therapy.”

Retail sales chart

Retail sales chart

“Until it rings”

The reopening of non-essential shops has helped many small businesses.

Delia Prudence, owner of The Art Room, an art supply store in Scarborough, said:

“Till was ringing unstoppably. A customer brought a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate our reopening.”

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), an industry group, said April had “a welcome boost to thousands of retailers in England and Wales” due to stagnant demand.

Helen Dickinson, BRC Chief Executive Officer, said:

Online spending chart

Online spending chart

But she said the numbers are “a step in the right direction” but demand “remains fragile.”

“In the pre-pandemic period, footfall was still down 40% and there are still 530,000 people working in retail,” she said, ending the full business rate easing in the UK. He added that it poses a serious threat. To retailers. “

Samuel Tombs, Chief UK Economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said there were signs of further sales growth in May.

However, he predicted that the recovery in household spending would “stall as it approaches pre-Covid levels later this year.”

He said the termination of the furlough at the end of September could lead to a new decline in employment, and rising inflation would push down real wages.

In addition, the end of the stamp duty holiday on September 30 will probably lead to a “rapid decline” in housing market activity, leading to a decline in demand for “high” household items.

Growth spurs “unprecedented”

The latest survey of private sector companies by IHS Markit / CIPS found that recent backlash has continued strongly as blockage restrictions have been relaxed.

Its “flash” (or provisional) Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) rose from 60.7 in April to 62.0 in May. Numbers above 50 indicate expansion.

This number is the highest since the survey began in January 1998 and reflects “strong contributions” from both the manufacturing and service industries.

Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit, said:

“As global commodity demand recovers, factory orders are skyrocketing at a record pace, and the opening of the economy allows more companies to trade, so the services sector reports near-record growth. doing.”

However, the recent economic recovery raises concerns that inflation may recover. Cost pressure was at its highest level in 13 years, with companies raising prices, according to a PMI survey.

“The direct result of supply and demand surpassing supply is a surge in prices, strongly suggesting that consumer prices will rise further after rising to 1.5% in April,” Williamson said. “.

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