etail gross sales in March beat expectations, with consumers spending extra in preparation of going out once more as soon as lockdown restrictions ease, in response to new knowledge.
The Workplace for Nationwide Statistics (ONS) revealed the quantity spent by consumers elevated 7.3% in March and amount purchased rose 7.2% in contrast with the identical month a 12 months earlier – simply as the primary Covid-19 lockdown began.
Gross sales have been additionally up 5.5% in contrast with February and noticed March mark a return to gross sales ranges beating pre-pandemic figures, in contrast to January and February – regardless of non-essential retailers remaining closed.
Non-essential shops reopened this month and noticed robust demand and lengthy queues by prospects.
Whole retail gross sales in March additionally marked a return to gross sales ranges greater than these witnessed in February 2020 – up 1.6% – earlier than the pandemic started, regardless of continued restrictions to non-essential retail.
Gross sales volumes – the quantity of products purchased, moderately than the quantity spent – was additionally up in March in contrast with a month earlier by 5.4%, the ONS added.
Garments gross sales have been notably robust – regardless of non-essential retailers remaining closed – leaping 17.5% – with different non-food gross sales additionally up 13.4%.
An easing of journey restrictions in March additionally noticed petrol station gross sales rise 11.1% and with the vaccine rollout persevering with at tempo, consumers headed out to shops that remained open in better numbers.
Because of this, the proportion spent on-line decreased to 34.7% final month, down from 36.2% in February, however nonetheless above the 23.1% reported a 12 months in the past.
Meals shops reported month-to-month progress of two.5% final month, with robust progress in specialist meals shops, together with butchers and bakers, doubtless reflecting the continued closure of the hospitality sector throughout the Easter interval, the ONS added.
Regardless of robust March figures, retail gross sales for the primary three months of the 12 months have been subdued total, with volumes down 5.8% in contrast with the earlier three months when restrictions had been eased.
Lisa Hooker, shopper markets chief at PwC stated: “A lot although these figures will give cheer to the entire sector, retailers can be hoping that these constructive indicators translate right into a sustained return to the bodily shops as they reopen throughout the UK over the course of April.
“The actual check of whether or not pent-up demand might be become precise gross sales will include subsequent month’s figures.”