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July retail sales surpass pre-lockdown levels but fashion still suffers

By Huw Hughes

Aug 21, 2020


UK retail sales volumes in July were higher than peak pre-lockdown levels, but fashion continued to struggle, new data reveals.

Total retail sales volumes increased by 3.6 percent last month when compared with June - that’s 3 percent above pre-pandemic levels in February, prior to the country going into lockdown, according to The Office For National Statistics (ONS).

Fashion sales were the worst hit during the pandemic, with volume sales last month remaining 25.7 percent lower than they were in February despite a 11.9 percent monthly increase in the sector in July.

Online retail sales last month fell 7 percent compared with June, but the huge growth in lockdown meant sales in the category were still 50.4 percent higher than February’s levels.

“Retail sales have now regained all the ground lost during the height of the coronavirus restrictions as more stores open for trade and online sales remain at historically high levels,” Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said in a statement. “While still below their pre-pandemic levels, both fuel and clothing sales continued to recover.

This month, the UK officially fell into a recession for the first time in 11 years after data from the ONS revealed that the economy shrank by 20.4 percent between April and June compared with the first three months of the year. It marked the economy’s largest slump on record.

However, it did bounce back by a slightly better than expected 8.7 percent in June as lockdown measures were eased and stores could reopen. Retail sales volumes grew by 13.9 percent in the month.

Photo credit: FashionUnited