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Retail sales decline slows after jubilee celebrations

Tom Shearsmith
22 July 2022

The decline in UK retail sales slowed last month as retail sales were buoyed by bumper demand for food and drink by shoppers wanting to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics said retail sales fell by 0.1% in June 2022 following a fall of 0.8% in May 2022. Sales were 2.2% above their pre-Coronavirus (COVID-19) February 2020 levels, but down over the past year.

It came after a heavier than previously thought slump in retail sales in May, with the ONS revising down its original prediction of a 0.5% decline to 0.8%.

Non-store retailing (predominantly online retailers) sales volumes fell by 3.7% in June 2022, with sales 20.8% above February 2020 levels.

Sales at non-food stores dropped by 0.7% for the month, driven by a 4.7% drop in sales volumes at clothing stores, while household goods were down 3.7%.

The sales decline was the biggest since October last year, when labour shortages and supply constraints led to shortages at forecourts across the UK.

Heather Bovill, ONS Deputy Director for Surveys and Economic Indicators, said: “After taking account of rising prices, retail sales fell slightly in June and although they remain above their pre-pandemic level, the broader trend is one of decline.

“After a fall in May, food sales picked up due to the Jubilee celebrations, but this was the only sector to report an increase. Fuel sales fell back considerably with retailers reporting the record high prices at the pump hitting sales.

“Clothing purchases dipped along with household goods, with retailers suggesting consumers cutting back on spending due to higher prices and concerns around affordability. Although still above their pre-pandemic level the proportion of sales online fell to its lowest level since March 2020.”

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), added: “The cost-of-living crunch caused by record inflation continue to damage consumer confidence and stifle household spending. Discretionary spending and particularly bigger purchases were put off as consumers become increasingly concerned about the future.”

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