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Retail Sales Data Shows Home Improvement Spend Continued To Rise In August

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The ONS has published retail sales data for August 2002, covering the four week period from 2 to 29 August 2020.

  • In August 2020, retail sales volumes increased by 0.8% when compared with July; this is the fourth consecutive month of growth, resulting in an increase of 4.0% when compared with February’s pre-pandemic level.

  • In August, retail sales values increased by 0.7% when compared with July and 2.5% when compared with February.

  • In August, there was a mixed picture within the different store types as non-store retailing volumes were 38.9% above February, while clothing stores were still 15.9% below February’s pre-pandemic levels.

  • Spending for home improvements continued to rise in August as sales volumes within household goods stores increased by 9.9% when compared with February.

  • Online retail sales fell by 2.5% in August when compared with July, but the strong growth experienced over the pandemic has meant that sales were still 46.8% higher than February’s pre-pandemic levels. 

Hardware, paints and glass stores showed a sharp rate of recovery in May with a growth rate of 58.6% when compared with April 2020; this resulted in August’s sales being 12.9% higher than February. This may have been because of the exemption of these stores to the lockdown rules imposed on other non-essential store types. Feedback from retailers added that many consumers were carrying out home improvements over this period, which helped boost sales to 12.9% above February’s sales. 

Home improvements may also be the reason for a faster rate of recovery for furniture stores and electrical household appliances. Music stores, on the other hand, continued to recover and in August were still 14.3% below volume sales in February 2020.

British Retail Consortium Commentary

Responding to the latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures which showed a 4.1% increase in overall sales (retail sales excluding fuel: J3L2), Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

“It is clear that the retail industry is entering a period of fragile recovery, with August showing the third consecutive month of growth. However, the recovery remains a mixed bag, with high growth in online sales while city centre shops suffered as a result of low footfall. BRC-KPMG data shows that food, computing, furniture and TVs have all sold well, driven by home working, while fashion, beauty and footwear have remained below pre-coronavirus levels.

“With further lockdowns looming, the Government must provide clarity on the impact it will have for shops. Retailers have invested hundreds of millions making stores safe and secure for customers during the pandemic; this includes perspex screens, social distancing measures and additional hygiene measures. As such, retail remains a safe space for consumers, even under local lockdowns.” 

  • Retail Sales Index figures: Below are Value of Retail Sales at Current Prices Non-Seasonally Adjusted:
  • All retailing, Excluding Automotive fuel, All businesses (J3L2): 4.1%
  • All retailing, Excluding Automotive fuel, Large businesses (J3L3): 2.3%
  • Predominantly Non-food Stores, All Businesses (EAIB): -3.7%
  • Predominantly Non-food Stores, Large Businesses (EAIV): -6.7%
  • Internet sales, all retail growth (Agg 21X): 52.7%

Source : Insight DIY Team, ONS and BRC

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18 September 2020

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