EDITORIAL What the latest retail sales figures say about how shoppers now want to buy

A year on from reopening from lockdown

A year on from reopening from lockdown

In today’s InternetRetailing we’re reporting on the latest retail sales figures – and what they say about how shoppers now want to buy. 

Figures from both the British Retail Consortium/KPMG and from Barclaycard suggest that spending rose in May – the first full month that non-essential shops were able to open following the latest lockdown. The BRC puts the rise in retail sales at 10% while Barclaycard says that consumer spending was up by 7.6% up in May – both compared to the same month in 2019. But as sales rose, more spending was done online, with almost 40% of retail sales taking place over the internet this May. That’s both up compared to pre-pandemic May 2019 and down compared to May 2020, during the first lockdown. At the bottom line, it seems that shoppers are doing much more of their shopping online than they did before the pandemic. 

Might that change? A study from the Centre for Retail Research, for VoucherCodes.co.uk, suggests that retail spending is set to rise steadily, growing by 3.5% in 2021 before speeding up further in 2022. The prediction covers both online and offline spending, but the CRR thinks the shops being open again will be a major driver for non-essential spending in particular. 

Putting the two together, it seems likely that shops will prove a draw for many – even as they continue to shop online more than they did before. The balance between the two channels has probably shifted, it seems, but both will still remain an important part of multichannel retail – and of multichannel retail strategies. 

Elsewhere, we’re reporting as retailers join the call for the UK and EU to work together to find solutions to reduce friction between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We also consider why transport and storage companies currently seem to be harder hit than those in other sectors affected by Covid-19, and look at how the growing demand for garden furniture – exacerbated by factors including Covid-19 and the Suez Canal closure – appears to be being met through secondhand sales. 

And we report as Ocado’s Zoom strategy hits a temporary roadblock, after the High Court rules against its plans to put a fulfilment centre near a North London primary school. And Tesco and Carrefour are to bring their three-year strategic procurement alliance to an end in December. 

In today’s guest comment, Oliver Horne of UPS in the UK and Ireland sets out what UK online retailers need to do in order to continue sending their goods to Europe. 

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