February saw promising growth in retail sales, suggesting that shoppers are ready to return to high streets when non-essential retailers make their return next month.

April 12 will see the reopening of stores deemed non-essential, if the Government sticks to the Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap’.

Retailers will be heartened by news that retail sales have risen by 1% in the month of February, compared to a 12-month average decline of 0.3%.

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This is also significantly higher than the three-month average growth of 0.6%, and than the February 2020 growth of 0.1%.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, commented: “February saw a return to growth after a disappointing start to the year. The Prime Minister’s roadmap to reopening prompted a burst in spending on non-food items, such as school uniforms.

“Furthermore, with another month of lockdown still to go, online sales were high, rewarding the retailers who have invested digitally.

“Couples staying home for Valentine’s Day found themselves splashing out at their local supermarket, benefitting food sales.

“Meanwhile, the continued closure of so-called ‘non-essential’ retail has meant that non-food instore sales remained significantly down, underlining the importance of a successful reopening in April.

“While the uptick in sales is encouraging, many retailers are concerned about the months ahead.

“Many retail businesses will be hoping that customers will return to shops, and have spent hundreds of millions on making their premises Covid-secure, but previous reopenings have shown that demand can be slow to come back.

“Government has a vital role to play in building up consumer confidence across the country to power the spending-led recovery.”