EASING restrictions on non-essential retail have led to increased spending following the latest lockdowns, new figures show.
Sales in April jumped 9.2 percent from March, with clothing stores proving particularly popular, jumping 25.3 percent, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Compared to April 2020, during the first nationwide lockout that left shopping streets deserted, sales rose 43.4% and also rose 9.9% from last month before the Covid pandemic -19 does not hit.
Despite the return of shoppers to stores, the ONS said it has seen long-term trends emerging from the pandemic that look set to stay.
It revealed that exclusively online retailers were the biggest winners in the pandemic, with sales up 56% from April 2019 and gas station sales down 13.3% from a year ago. is two years old, as homework and reduced travel hit the industry.
There were signs that reopening pubs and restaurants to alfresco dining was starting to impact food sales, with volumes falling 0.9% in April, after three months of growth. But sector sales remain 8.6% higher than in February 2020.
Cardiff retailer Jonathan Hughes-Lewis, owner of Johnathan David Jewelers, said downtown retailing is definitely on the rise, but footfall has yet to regain pre-pandemic levels .
Mr Hughes-Lewis said retailers noticed the boost restrictions were immediately lifted.
“The first three weeks there was a strong pent-up demand. We were busy and it was a bit like Christmas for a lot of retailers, but it got a little easier. ”
The Morgan Arcade store, reopened as soon as restrictions permitted on April 12, and had taken interim measures online during the second lockdown.
“Due to the nature of our business, the Internet is not easy because they are tangible goods that people love to feel and touch. But as of November, we were online. Everything went well, it had nothing to do with normal sales figures – it was a little something extra.
Hughes-Lewis doesn’t think comparing the numbers to 2020, when most sectors of the economy were shut down for long periods of time, has any value, but said this year’s sales have kept pace with 2018 / 19, and he was pleased with the monthly growth in activity on his shop site.
With uncertainty about overseas travel remaining, it seems, Hughes-Lewis believes retailers are seeing the benefits.
“We sell a lot of longer times. I think people have nowhere to go and probably won’t do it for another few months.
“It seems we sell at least one engagement ring a day, and wedding rings, I think people want to celebrate that they can come out.
“But the traffic in the city center is still pretty low compared to what we’re used to, but I think that will increase as things start to relax.”
According to ONS data, a non-foreclosure buyer across the UK focused on clothing to enjoy new freedoms, including outerwear and knitwear, compared to shopping habits of era of wearing comfortable clothes to be stuck inside.
Non-essential retail in Wales and England has been allowed to reopen from April 12, with Scottish stores expected to wait until April 26.
The easing of travel restrictions led to higher fuel sales, with gas stations registering a 69.4% increase from March. This means that retail sales have now risen in the past three months as life begins to return to normal.
But with the stores reopening, online retailers across all industries have seen sales plummet as shoppers opted to ditch their computers and smartphones and head to Main Street, the ONS added.
Helen Dickinson, Managing Director of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Demand built up during the lockdown continues to be released as the reopening of non-essential retail has provided the public with a welcome opportunity to visit many of their favorite stores.
“Improving weather conditions in April translated into increased fashion sales, especially in outerwear and knitwear, as the public refreshed their wardrobes and considered meeting their friends and family. family outdoors.
“Online sales also continued to perform well, rewarding retailers who had invested in their online and delivery operations during the pandemic.”
But the boss of the retail lobbying group said the number of buyers on main streets is still down 40 percent and 530,000 retail workers remain on leave.
Additional reports: PA