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High street sales spike dropped off in second week after reopening, data shows

The UK retail sector still has a long way to go to regain lost ground, BDO said.

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High street shops are slowly getting customers back through the doors (Andrew Matthews/PA)

High street shops are slowly getting customers back through the doors (Andrew Matthews/PA)

High street shops are slowly getting customers back through the doors (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A rapid recovery in sales in the first week after non-essential stores were allowed to reopen tapered off in the following days, according to new data.

Sales were around a fifth lower than last year in the first two weeks of last month, but rebounded to only 7.1% down after June 15, when non-essential shops were allowed to reopen.

But hopes of a rapid rebound may have been dealt a serious blow the next week, as the decline widened to 15.5%, a tracker from BDO shows.

Sales were still down by 14.4% across the month when compared to last June – leaving further to go on the road to recovery.

The strength of non-store sales throughout the lockdown shows that spending has not entirely dried upSophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO

“Despite the opening of non-essential retail and a strong performance of non-store sales in June, retailers have a long way to go to claw their way back following three months of closure,” said Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO.

June caps off five straight months of falling like-for-like sales across high streets.

But there is not only bad news. As the economy started to take its first, uncertain steps out of lockdown, June was the best month since February.

It was helped by the opening of non-essential stores and strong sales online.

And some sectors are faring better than the overall malaise.

For the second month in a row, homewares businesses showed a set of positive results, as people started doing up the houses they are spending much more time in.

The homewares sector saw like-for-like sales increase by 25.5%, BDO said.

Ms Michael added: “The strength of non-store sales throughout the lockdown shows that spending has not entirely dried up, and while the reopening of shops will be a welcome sign, for many it may not bring immediate results. Retailers should remain cautious and continue to invest in the ever-more critical non-store channels, given the acceleration of the continuing shift to online.

“The reality is that consumer confidence remains historically low, well below pre-crisis levels. Despite the Government’s ambitious plans, the road to recovery will be challenging and fraught with uncertainty until the real impact of the pandemic is understood, and therefore any early signs of a high street recovery may prove to be a false dawn.”

PA