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Chloe Shakesby

ONS figures show retail sales bounce back to pre-pandemic levels

Figures released today show that retail sales have reached pre-pandemic levels.

The Office for National Statistics has announced that retail sales volumes increased by 3.6 per cent in July, bringing it to 3 per cent above pre-pandemic levels in February.

Fuel sales in the period continued to recover, but were still 11.7 per cent lower than February - likely due to data showing that road traffic in July was around 17 percentage points lower compared with the first week in February.

Clothing store sales remained 25.7 per cent lower than February, even with a July 2020 monthly increase of 11.9 per cent in this sector.

The ONS said: “While total retail sales may be recovering in July, the wider economy still entered a technical recession in Quarter 2 2020.

“Recent analysis on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic looked at the output measure of gross domestic product (GDP).

“In Quarter 2 2020, the economy shrank by a further 20.4 per cent from the fall of 2.2 per cent in Quarter 1 2020 and is 17.2 per cent smaller than in February 2020.

“Growth in the retail sales industry contributes approximately 5.4 per cent to GDP.

“As we see unprecedented changes to the economy, the pandemic has also changed the shape of the retail industry.

“Despite total levels of sales increasing to slightly above pre-pandemic levels, not all retail sectors experienced this bounce back.”

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