UK retail sales climb 5.4% in March even as online component falls

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UK retail sales climb 5.4% in March even as online component falls

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 UK retail sales climb 5.4% in March even as online component falls
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Summary

  • The UK retail sales grew by 5.4 per cent in March, up from 2.2 per cent in February.
  • Partial easements significantly helped in boosting the retail sales.
  • The March 2021 retail sales were 1.6 per cent higher than February 2020 sales.
  • Non-food items were the largest positive contributors to monthly sales.

Retail sales in the UK registered a growth of 5.4 per cent in March 2021, extending the growth story seen in February this year as businesses started witnessing a considerate bounce back in the transactions as the country moves ahead according to the exit roadmap for planned easements.

The partial easements across various locations in the nation have significantly helped in boosting the retail sales as a sizable section of business owners restarted their operations after the government lifted stern restrictions.

According to the data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Friday, 23 April, the retail sales volume continued their path of recovery in the reporting months witnessing a spike of 5.4 per cent.

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Interestingly, the retail sales volume in March 2021 were 1.6 per cent higher as compared to the reading recorded for February 2020, the last pre-pandemic era month.

Key Highlights

  1. The non-food items emerged as the largest positive contributors to the monthly sales growth metrics for March 2021. On the contrary, retail sales attributed to the food stores realised an uptick of 2.5 per cent in March 2021.
  2. Among the broader category of non-food items, clothing stores and non-food stores recorded an increase of 17.5 and 13.4 per cent, respectively.
  3. The 17.5 per cent monthly rise in the retail sales of clothing products stood 41.5 per cent below as compared to the level seen in February 2020.
  4. Subsequent to the easing of travel restrictions, auto fuel retailers also staged a monthly upswing of 11.1 per cent in the retail sales.
  5. Even after the considerable jump in the monthly figure, the retail sales volume for the January-March quarter was 5.8 per cent short of the reading seen for the October-December period of 2020.
  6. Meaningful drops in the sales of clothing and other non-food stores due to tighter lockdown restrictions for a major period during the quarter contributed to the drop.
  7. Notably, the proportion of net online spending reduced marginally to 34.7 per cent in March 2021, as compared to 36.2 per cent in February as in-store spending increased at a faster pace in the reporting month.
  8. Nonetheless, the proportion of online spending in March 2021 remained higher than 23.1% reported in March last year.
  9. The ONS has taken a 35-day period from 28 February to 3 April 2021 to deduce the monthly retail sales for March 2021.
  10. In the aforementioned stretch, there were certain restrictions with regard to the sale of non-essential retail products across England, Scotland, and Wales.
  11. The impending relaxation of lockdown restrictions had largely contributed to the retail sales growth in March 2021, the ONS said in a statement citing feedback from unnamed retailers.

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