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UK retail sales set to rise by 3.5% in 2021 and 5% in 2022: study

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UK retail sales will rise by 3.5% in 2021 and by 5% in 2022 as shoppers return to stores after 12 months marked by the lockdowns of ‘non-essential’ retail businesses, a new forecast suggests.

The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) says, in a study commissioned by, that this year sales will rise by £13.8bn (+3.5%) to £408.6bn both online and offline. The growth, it says, will be driven by shoppers now able to visit physical shops to buy non-food goods (+8.8% to £218.9bn) once more following lockdown. But food and drink sales are expected to fall by 3.2% to £170.3bn compared to 2020 as hospitality businesses reopen following lockdown. Shoppers will spend, it is predicted, an average of £6,150 each, across both online and offline. 

In 2022, says the study, Life after Covid: prospects for retail, hospitality and travel, sales will grow by 5% to £429.017bn. That includes £175.1bn (+2.8%) on food and £253.9bn (+6.6%) on non-food goods. 

In 2020, by contrast, retail sales grew by just 0.3% on 2019, according to the CRR. 

In a parallel survey, the report finds that 19% of people are excited about returning to shops, while 20.9% are quite interested. But 24.5% say they are not very interested and 19.6% are neutral – following a year in which more people have done more of their shopping online. The report says: “During the pandemic, people have been able to easily buy groceries and non-food goods both in essential retail stores and also online. This means that, whilst people are looking forward to returning to non-essential retail stores there is unlikely to be a large surge in retail spend as a result of them opening in 2021. Instead, over the course of 2021 and 2022 there is likely to be a steady increase in sales.”

Anita Naik, lifestyle editor at, says: “The last year has been difficult for the retail industry with non-essential shops being closed for a large portion of 2020 and early 2021. Despite online retail soaring as a result, the rapid changes in the ways people shopped during the pandemic has posed challenges for much of the retail industry.  

“Therefore, it’s encouraging to see such large growth predicted for both this year and next as consumers return to stores and continue to shop online from the comfort of their own homes. With life returning to a semblance of ‘normality’ it’s likely Brits will be spending more with retailers than they have been used to over the last year and it’s inevitable that there will be a shift in the things they are buying as life opens up again.”

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