Retailers saw sales rebound in June as football fans enjoying the Euros bought more food and drink.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that retail sales volumes increased by 0.5% in June.
It came after a surprise dip in retail sales in the previous month, while the latest figures also surpassed the expectations of analysts who had forecast a flat performance.
The ONS also said June’s figures represented a 9.5% increase in retail sales volumes against pre-pandemic levels from February 2020.
It added that last month’s jump was primarily caused by strong sales at food stores, which rose by 4.2%.
The ONS highlighted anecdotal evidence that linked strong food and drink sales with the start of the Euro 2020 tournament.
It represented a rebound following a 5.5% fall in food store sales in May after the reopening of hospitality had initially cut into trading.
ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: “June’s retail sales have picked up again following the dip seen last month, with the main driver coming from food and drink sales, boosted by football fans across Britain enjoying the Euros.
“Although not quite back to their pre-pandemic level, fuel sales rose again this month, as people increased the amount they travel so are spending more at the pump.”
Motor fuel sales increased by 2.3% over the month but remain 2.1% below pre-pandemic levels, the ONS said.
The latest figures show that non-food stores still saw lower sales, with a 1.7% decrease in June against May’s performance.
Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “The first full month of reopening for indoor hospitality was always going to be make or break for the retail sector, and we’ve seen both increased footfall for the high street, with online sales at their lowest level (26.7%) since the start of the pandemic, and, perhaps surprisingly, a boom in demand for grocery.
“The combination of both food and drink sales to supporters celebrating the home teams’ successes at the Euros and record high consumer sentiment levels seem to have particularly benefited June’s results.
“However, headline growth masks declines in other non-food categories, with household goods sales suffering their first non-lockdown driven decline since the start of the pandemic, as people started to spend more time out of the home.”