UK Retail Sales Get Further Lift After Lockdown Rules Dropped

UK Retail Sales Lift As Lockdown Ends

As the U.K.’s lockdown measures were lifted, consumers went out shopping for various products, including home-related goods like sofas. As a result, U.K. retail sales grew in September at their fastest rate in 18 months, Yahoo! Finance reported.

The Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey pointed to grocery stores as a big contributor to sales growth. The CBI surveys 123 companies, including 56 retailers.

“The latest results suggest that the recovery in retail spending over the summer months has continued into September, which is welcome news, but retailers appear cautious over the near-term outlook,” said Ben Jones, CBI principal economist.

Jones told Yahoo! that “the data highlights that there have been clear winners and losers within the retail sector as spending habits have changed.” However, that means some parts of the retail industry are thriving, while “others are still facing desperately difficult times,” he added.

“With social distancing measures tightening again, those working in the hardest-hit sectors will be fearing the worst. It’s clear that targeted support measures will be needed to ensure that viable businesses can emerge intact on the other side of this crisis,” Jones continued.

Lockdown measures affected British buying habits, the CBI said. Sales of groceries have risen 10 percent and hardware industry sales by 20 percent. Sales of household furniture rose nearly 40 percent.

DFS Furniture told Yahoo! that U.K. consumers went on a sofa shopping spree after COVID-19 lockdown measures were lifted. This allowed the company to recoup some of its lockdown losses.

At the same time, with people working from home and refraining from going out, sales of clothing were down 40 percent and department store sales were down 23 percent.

The result? Retail employment in the U.K. dropped 45 percent starting in May and into August— the sharpest fall it has taken since the 2009 recession, the CBI reported. Meanwhile, internet sales surged by 46 percent in the year through August.