The official data showed that the British retail sales surged in April as shoppers splashed out on new clothes after shops reopened following months of lockdown. Sales volumes in April jumped 9.2% month on month. Clothing sales soared by almost 70%.
Sterling rose slightly against the U.S. dollar on the latest sign of a robust economic recovery in Britain. Aled Jones, head of retail at Lloyds Bank said that the fashion retailers were the ultimate beneficiaries of beer gardens reopening and the rule of six nights out returning. The Office for National Statistics said that the sales volumes were 42.4% higher than a year earlier. It was previously collapsed during the Britain’s first lockdown.
British retail sales are now 10.6% above their level before the pandemic struck. Many retailers have suffered badly from repeated lockdowns. But still this accelerated the shift to online commerce. After more than 240 years of trading, the Department store Debenhams closed its last store this month. But still the online retailer Boohoo has brought its brand name.
The government classed retailers such as clothing and furniture stores, as non-essential. Hence they were unable to reopen to shoppers in England until April 12. Online retail’s share of spending dropped to 30.0% in April from 34.7% in March. This is its lowest since December.
Bank of England policymakers are keeping a close watch on retail sales. This is in turn as it expects a surge in spending as wealthier households spend savings built up during lockdowns. However retailers will have to compete with newly reopened pubs and restaurants for a share of disposable income. Britain’s longest-running survey of consumer sentiment, from GfK, showed that morale was back at its level of March 2020 before Britain felt the full force of the pandemic.