UK retail sales rose above pre-pandemic levels in July, as shoppers returned to the high street, according to official figures.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that retail sales increased by 3.6 per cent between June and July.
Sales are now around 3 per cent higher than February, before the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic and the UK was placed in lockdown.
Household goods stores saw the biggest increase, rising 6 per cent above February’s levels. Clothing store sales were the worst hit during the crisis – volume sales in July remained 25.7 per cent lower than in February, even with a July 2020 monthly increase of 11.9 per cent in this sector.
People spent more money on petrol, while online retail sales fell 7 per cent in July when compared with June, but the strong growth experienced during the pandemic has meant that sales are still 50.4 per cent higher than February’s pre-pandemic levels.
Commenting on the latest figures, Will Broome, chief executive and founder of retail technology app, Ubamarket, said: "These results are fantastic to see, as more people feel more confident about venturing to the high street, but with the COVID recession hitting, retailers do need to be prepared for another potential dip in sales.
“This has been one of the most turbulent times in the history of the high street, with shops having to limit footfall, less customer interaction and more stringent safety measures. Retailers would do well to think of alternatives to drive sales while maintaining the safety and confidence of their clientele.”
He added: “Technology and in-app solutions, such as payments, personalised offers and in-store navigation can help upsell to customers remotely, utilising their previous shopping history and buying trends to increase spend and basket size. This will help retailers offer a highly personalised high street experience without risking unnecessary contact. This will keep staff and shoppers safe while increasing spend and helping them stave off the COVID recession and grow on the other side of the coronavirus crisis."