The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has labelled the second quarter of 2021 as the best on record for the sector.
Non-essential retail opened at the beginning of Q2 and shoppers were keen to get back in shops, but the e-commerce boom still continued, making for strong combined performance.
This has resulted in a total sales increase of 13.1% in June 2021 compared to a 1.3% decline in the same month in 2019 (pre-pandemic).
The June 2021 is above the three-month average of 10.4%.
Meanwhile, UK retail sales increased 17.0% on a like-for-like basis from June 2019, when they had decreased 1.6% from the preceding year.
BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, commented: “The second quarter of 2021 saw exceptional growth as the gradual unlocking of the UK economy encouraged a release of pent-up demand built up over previous lockdowns.
“In June, while growth in food sales begun to slow, non-food sales were bolstered by growing consumer confidence and the continued unleashing of consumer demand.
“With many people taking staycations, or cheaper UK-based holidays, many have found they have a little extra to spend at the shops, with strong growth in-store in June.”
The fashion and accessories sector, Dickinson said, did well in the first half of June when the weather was good.
“Nonetheless, UK retail is still facing strong headwinds with many retailers still making up for ground lost during the previous lockdowns.
“City centre retailers continue to suffer low footfall and spending as commuters and international tourist numbers remained well below pre-pandemic levels,” Dickinson continued.
“Consumer comfort with the next stage of the roadmap will be key to the ongoing success of retail.
“Many customers are looking forward to a return to a more normal shopping experience, while others may be discouraged by the change in face covering rules.
“The Government will need to reassure the public on safety, while pushing forward with its hugely successful vaccination programme.
“The public will also need to be understanding of one another during the easing of restrictions; there has been a big rise in violence and abuse against retail workers during the pandemic and colleagues cannot be put in the firing line because of this change in policy.”