UK retail sales extend recovery from virus slump

LONDON (AFP) – British retail sales have climbed for the fifth month in a row, after a coronavirus-fuelled slump earlier this year, official data showed yesterday.

Sales by volume rose 1.5 per cent in September from August, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

Retail sales were up 5.5 per cent since February, one month before Britain went into lockdown.

The ONS added that online sales declined slightly in September from August to stand at 27.5 per cent of all sales. However, this was still higher than the 20.1 per cent seen in February.

And in the three months to September, total retail sales volumes soared by 17.4 per cent compared with the prior three months.

Furniture is cleared away outside an eatery in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. PHOTO: AP

That was the biggest quarterly increase on record, according to the ONS.

“Growth in retail sales is beating even the most optimistic expectations,” said Chief Executive of Research Consultancy Retail Economics Richard Lim.

“Consumers have proved extremely resilient as cancelled holidays, fewer trips out and less commuting have boosted discretionary spending power to the benefit of some parts of the retail sector.

“Year-end festive season is going to be like no other and we’re also likely to be seeing signs of consumers starting their festive shopping earlier.”