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ONS: DIY & Gardening Purchases Help To Boost September Retail Sales

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The latest ONS Retail Sales Index shows that retail sales increased for the fifth consecutive month, with non-food purchases such as DIY and gardening goods helping to boost figures. 

  • In September 2020 retail sales volumes increased by 1.5% when compared with August; this is the fifth consecutive month of growth, resulting in an increase of 5.5% when compared with February's pre-pandemic level.

  • While food sales have done well in recent months as people have eaten out less, non-food store sales have now made a recovery at 1.7% above their February levels.

  • In the three months to September, retail sales volumes increased by 17.4% when compared with the previous three months; this is the biggest quarterly increase on record as sales picked up from record-low levels experienced earlier in the year.

  • In September, fuel sales volumes were still 8.6% below February with reduced travel as many continued to work from home, and clothing sales volumes were still 12.7% below February.

  • Home improvement sales continued to do well in September with increased sales in household goods and garden items within "other" non-food stores.

  • The proportion of online sales was at 27.5%, compared with 20.1% reported in February, despite small monthly declines across most of the retail sector.

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Responding to the latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures, which showed an 5.8% increase in overall sales (retail sales excluding fuel), Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

“The retail recovery remains fragile as the industry enters the all-important Christmas period, with November and December typically accounting for over a fifth of annual sales. While food and online retail continued to show strong growth, high street shopping has struggled in recent months, with footfall still down by over a third.  Tighter Government restrictions have taken their toll on fashion and beauty sales, while home office and computing equipment has benefitted.

“Retailers have spent hundreds of millions to make stores Covid-secure and keep staff and customers safe. Furthermore, they are encouraging the public to shop early for Christmas and prevent the last minute rush, so that everyone – from shoppers to warehouse workers - have the space they need to stay safe and well. Retail has proven itself to be a responsible industry during this pandemic, and Government should not risk the retail recovery by closing stores during the all-important run up to Christmas.” 

Source : ONS and BRC

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23 October 2020

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