As the first data begins to emerge pertaining to retail footfall during the first weeks after the reopening of non-essential retail, experts say the signs are hopeful but warn that we are not out of the woods yet.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that early footfall data is promising.
For the four weeks from 4 April to 1 May, three of which were post-reopening, sales increased on a total sales basis considerably in the period following reopening, and by 7.3% across the month of April compared to April 2019. This is above the three-month average growth of 6.0%.
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, commented: “Retailers will be delighted with the way the re-opening of the high street was greeted by shoppers eager to get into stores and engage once more with physical shopping.”
He also went on to mention growth in the jewellery sector specifically, saying: “Remembering that this time last year we were in lockdown, there are some outstanding growth figures in April, especially in non-food within categories such as jewellery, accessories and footwear which all registered triple digit growth.
“Online sales continued to grow across most categories, but at a reduced rate as many consumers stepped away from their computers to head outside. This maybe has come as a surprise, although it does showcase that some changes in consumer behaviour are here to stay.
“Conditions will remain challenging as government support tails away over the summer and interest and repayments on CBILS and bounce back loans will need to start being paid back, alongside deferred rental payments.
“Retailers face an interesting few month as they assess the level at which online shopping falls back and full re-opening of the hospitality sector will likely see a dilution in retail spend in favour of leisure, entertainment and hospitality.
“Retailers will be hoping that with the increasing positive signs of the economy improving, market conditions offer scope to spark a big surge in consumer spending this summer.”
There are some outstanding growth figures in April, especially in non-food within categories such as jewellery.”
Meanwhile, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), had some more cautionary words for the retail sector, warning that what the government does next is crucial.
She said: “While the boost in sales is positive as the industry continues to invest in safety and the online offer, high streets still have a long way to go on the path to recovery.
“There are 530,000 people who work in retail still on furlough. This and the end of the full business rates relief in England in June jeopardises the future of many stores and the livelihoods of those who depend on them.
“The government must deliver on its promise to reform the broken rates system in their ongoing review and reduce the financial burden on retailers, or risk more unnecessary store closures and job losses.”