Retailer spending spiked as shoppers flocked to the main streets after restrictions were eased on non-essential stores reopening after the last lockdown.
Sales rose 9.2% in April versus March, with clothing stores being the most popular at 25.3%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Shoppers focused on clothing to enjoy new freedoms including outerwear and knitwear compared to the usual shopping habit of wearing comfortable clothes to hold on indoors.
The “astounding” surge in clothing and footwear sales in April “showed that households were particularly keen to update their wardrobes,” said Paul Dales, UK chief economist at Capital Economics.
He said there was now less headroom for larger gains in retail sales, but added that recent data suggests that the economic recovery in May was “driven by people moving back to the pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theaters.” went “.
Silvia Rindone, EY UK & Ireland’s retail manager, said April had “significant pent-up consumer demand”. “As consumers return to the in-store shopping experience and indulge in retail therapy, we saw sales increase in most categories.”
It found that online-only retailers were the biggest winners from the pandemic. Revenue increased 56% from April 2019 and gas station revenue declined 13.3% year over year as homework and less travel weighed on the sector.
There was evidence that the reopening of pubs and restaurants to outdoor diners was starting to affect grocery sales. After three months of growth, the volume fell 0.9% in April.
Helen Dickinson, General Manager of the British Retail Consortium, said:
“The pent-up demand pent up during the lockdown continues to be released as the reopening of the non-essential retail store provided the public with a welcome opportunity to visit many of their favorite stores.
“Improved weather in April meant increased sales of fashion, particularly outerwear and knitwear, as the public updated their wardrobe and made plans to meet friends and family outdoors.