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BRC warns new lockdown will ‘throw away’ retail recovery

By Huw Hughes

10 Nov 2020

UK retail saw strong sales growth last month as it continued to recover from Spring store closures, but a new lockdown in England “will throw away this progress”, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned Tuesday.

On a total basis, sales increased by 4.9 percent in October, against a decline of 0.3 percent in October 2019, according to the BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor.

Online non-food sales increased by 39 percent during the month, against a growth of 3 percent last year.

However, over the three months to October, in-store sales of non-food items declined 9 percent on a like-for-like and 11.4 percent on a total basis.

Total non-food retail sales for that period increased 5.7 percent on a like-for-like basis and 4 percent on a total basis.

“October saw another month of strong sales growth, with food, gifts and loungewear high on peoples’ shopping lists,” BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said in a statement.

“Tightening restrictions across the United Kingdom and speculation towards the end of the month of an England-wide lockdown prompted customers to stock up on home comforts and food supplies.”

But Dickinson warned that a new lockdown could risk throwing that progress away and urged the government to provide clarity about the criteria for reopening in December.

“During an incredibly challenging year for the industry, many retailers had finally thought that they were finding their footing. The new lockdown in England will now throw away this progress as we enter the crucial Christmas trading period and we estimate that 2 billion pounds of sales per week will be lost this month,” Dickinson said.

“It is therefore vital that retailers are able to trade from 3 December and we are asking the government to urgently provide clarity about the criteria for reopening and to ensure that affected businesses are supported in the coming months.”

Photo credit: FashionUnited