UK stores have lost £27bn in sales during the three Covid-19 lockdowns reports the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Responding to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) Retail Sales Index figures, which showed an 1.3 per cent decrease in overall sales (non-seasonally adjusted retail sales excluding fuel) during February, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC (pictured) said: “Retail sales fell for the second consecutive month in February, and non-food stores saw their fourteenth month of decline with a massive 25 per cent drop.
“UK stores have now lost a whopping £27 billion from lost sales during the three lockdowns. This is already impacting retail employment, with 67,000 retail jobs lost between December 2019 and 2020.
“While the Prime Minister’s roadmap helped boost spending on back-to-school items, consumer demand remained weak overall.”
Meanwhile, said Ms Dickinson, online sales remained strong, providing a lifeline for customers, and rewarding those retailers who have adapted and grown their digital offering over the last 12 months.
According to the ONS data, more than a third (36.1 per cent) of retail sales took place online in February.
That’s the highest online share recorded by the ONS to date – and ahead of 35.2 per cent in January 2021. Pre-pandemic, 20 per cent of sales were online a year ago. The growing share of sales came as online sales grew by 77.6 per cent on the same time last year, and by 4.6 per cent on the previous month.
“Retail remains an essential part in unlocking consumer demand and driving forward the country’s economic recovery. It is essential that all retailers are able to open – and stay open – from April 12 and that Government continues to offer necessary support to businesses as many begin the process of trading their way back to growth, “said Ms Dickinson.
“The ongoing business rates consultation offers a pathway to supporting investment in retail stores and warehouses, but only if Government acts quickly to fix this broken tax system and its damaging effects on the industry.”