Chloe Shakesby

ONS: Non-food stores thrive as sales rise despite country's overall retail figures dip

The Office for National Statistics has reported that the country has seen an increase in non-food sales across the past month.

The ONS reported today (June 18) that despite an overall decrease in retail sales - which dropped by 1.4 per cent between April and May - sales at non-food shop grew by 2.3 per cent.

It said that a 5.7 per cent drop in food retail sales was the result of more hospitality venues being reopened, with consumers eating out more frequently.

Online sales also saw a dip, but remained nearly 60 per cent higher than they were in February 2020 before the onset of the pandemic.

Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, commented: “Consumers can’t spend their cash twice and with more options to choose from in May there’s little wonder retail sales figures have dropped a little.

“People rediscovered the joy of eating out after months of having to settle for takeaways or meal kits and that had a knock on to food sales which fell 5.7 per cent.

“It seemed people had made sure their own wardrobes were summer ready before they turned to their homes and clothing sales were down slightly in May after a huge uptick the previous month.

“A bit of sunshine and consumers rushed to jazz up their outdoor spaces or indulge in new sports equipment.

“What is interesting is the fall in sales from non-store retailers. People have wanted to get back out on the high street, to touch and try before they buy and in fact across the board online sales dipped.

“But no-one should assume this means shoppers have kicked the habit, May might have delivered the third monthly fall in a row, but online sales were still 58.8 per cent higher than pre-pandemic.

“Retailers might be a little disappointed that momentum has fizzled a little, but all that socialising does bring opportunities.

“If people are out and about more there’s more chance people will get back to a spot of impromptu buying, lured in by tantalising window displays.

“There will be disappointment from retailers that social distancing measures will remain in place a little longer but queuing outdoors is less of a hardship when the sun is shining.”

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