Friday 4 June 2021 6:00 am

Online spending continues to drive retail sales despite shops open for business

Online spending grew yet again last month, despite the high street being open for business, suggesting some consumer behaviours adopted during the lockdowns are here to stay.

Total online spending rose nearly 10 per cent in May versus the same time last year, according to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker, despite physical shops being open and operating almost as normal.  

The rise means online sales in May 2021 were higher even than online sales in May 2020, when the UK was in a full lockdown and online shopping was the only available option.

BDO head of retail and wholesale Sophie Michael said: “The continued strength of online sales suggests that some consumer behaviours adopted during lockdowns have stuck, illustrating the ongoing importance for a blended multichannel approach from retailers.

“Product relevant and customer engagement through all channels will be key to trading success.”

Total like-for-like sales, both in-store and online, nearly trebled in May, from a poor lockdown base of minus 18.3 per cent for the equivalent month last year.

Lifestyle and fashion retailers had a particularly successful month, with sales up 85 and 83 per cent respectively.

Michael continued: “The figures for May continue the encouraging results we saw in April and suggest that the building blocks for a sustained recovery are steadily falling into place.

“There is clear progress being made following the reopening of stores, with consumer confidence and retail sales approaching pre-pandemic levels.

“This is good news for retailers operating in discretionary spend sectors such as fashion and lifestyle, which were particularly impacted as a result of the lockdowns.”

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