On a total basis, retail sales increased considerably over in the period following reopening and by +7.3% across the month of April compared to April 2019, reports BRC-KPMG.

UK retail sales increased +46.3% on a LFL basis from April 2019, when they had increased +3.7% from the preceding year. Stores that have closed, are yet to reopen, or are new (in the last two years) are not included in the LFL sales figure, but online sales are included – which means online sales play a far greater role in LFL sales than total sales.

In the three weeks following the reopening of stores, non-food sales increased by approximately +25% in comparison to the levels of spending seen during the previous month under lockdown. Online non-food sales increased by +57.4% in April, against a growth of +4.3% in April 2019. 

Helen Dickinson OBE, BRC chief executive, says: “Following the reopening of so-called non-essential stores on 12th April in England and Wales and continued online growth, retail sales enjoyed a welcome boost last month. With the short-term, pent-up demand for the shopping experience drawing consumers back to stores, non-food sales across stores and online increased by a quarter between March and April.

"It is great to see customers feeling confident visiting shops, a testament to the ongoing investment by retailers in making their stores, warehouses, and deliveries Covid-secure. Furniture saw a boost as consumers can once again try before they buy.

"However, this sales growth is fragile. There is little competition for share of spending while parts of hospitality, leisure, and tourism remain restricted and inner cities and town centres continue to perform poorly as many people continue to work from home. 

“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.”