Retail Sales Dip Despite Restrictions Easing

The UK’s retail sales volumes fell by 1.4 per cent monthly between April and May despite the further easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the Office for National Statistics said.

The largest contribution to the monthly decline in the month came from food stores where sales volumes fell by 5.7 per cent, Xinhua news agency quoted the ONS as saying in its latest update on Friday.

It added that “anecdotal evidence suggests the easing of hospitality restrictions had had an impact on sales as people returned to eating and drinking at locations such as restaurants and bars”.

Although monthly retail sales volumes dropped in May, the total retail sales were 9.1 per cent higher when compared with the pre-coronavirus pandemic level in February 2020, said the ONS.

In addition, the total proportion of sales online decreased to 28.5 per cent in May, down from 29.8 per cent in April 2021, but remained substantially higher than before the pandemic, showed the ONS data.

“Feedback from retailers suggested that the easing of retail restrictions had affected online sales as consumers returned to physical stores,” said the ONS.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed a four-week delay to the lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions in England beyond June 21, citing the risk of highly transmissible Delta variant.

The easing of restrictions in Scotland is likely to be delayed by three weeks amid a surge of coronavirus cases, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

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