Friday 23 July 2021 3:15 pm

Euro 2020 pushes retail sales above pre-Covid levels

Retail sales surged above pre-pandemic levels last month as consumers rushed back to high streets to buy products that were unavailable amid Covid lockdowns and splurged on pints during matches at Euro 2020, new figures released today reveal.

The volume and value of retail sales in June were up 9.5 per cent and 10.6 per cent respectively compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Read more: UK economy grows 0.8 per cent in May

A rise in the volume of food sales, up 4.2 per cent over the last month, was driven by the start of Euro 2020 as consumers purchased beer and snacks ahead of match days, the ONS said.

Sales increased 0.5 per cent over the last month in June.

Neil Birrell, chief investment officer at Premier Miton, said: “The UK consumer is still surprising on the upside, with June’s retail sales beating expectations and remaining strong.”

Data shows the trend toward consumers purchasing home improvement products over the course of the pandemic has started to subside, with non-food stores sales down 1.7 per cent in June.

Automotive sales jumped, driven by workers travelling into the office and consumers taking staycation holidays.

The rise in sales in June shows demand in the economy is strong and indicates the recovery is on a positive trajectory.

In May, retail sales dropped 1.4 per cent compared to April.

Read more: UK consumer confidence jumps on stronger than expected economic rebound

The figures come as data published today shows consumer confidence in the UK rose over the last month, providing further evidence that the economy is on track to restore to pre-Covid levels of output.

Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics, said:  “June’s retail sales have picked up again following the dip seen last month, with the main driver coming from food and drink sales, boosted by football fans across Britain enjoying the Euros.”

“Although not quite back to their pre-pandemic level, fuel sales rose again this month, as people increased the amount they travel so are spending more at the pump.”

The proportion of sales conducted online dropped to 26.7 per cent in June, indicating consumers are reverting to pre-Covid behaviour and heading to the high street to purchase products.

Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said: “Bricks and mortar retailers will take comfort from the fact that online sales have fallen for the fourth month in a row. Shopping as an experience rather than a necessity can’t be done on a tablet.”