TOP NEWS: UK retail sales slip as at-home drinking ditched for pubs

(Alliance News) - UK retail sales fell on a monthly basis in May as people returned to pubs and ...

Alliance News 18 June, 2021 | 7:26AM
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(Alliance News) - UK retail sales fell on a monthly basis in May as people returned to pubs and restaurants, figures showed on Friday.

Retail sales volumes fell 1.4% month-on-month in May, pulling back after a 9.2% surge in April. Mid-April saw the re-opening of non-essential retail in England after months of lockdown.

Consensus, according to FXStreet, had expected growth of 1.6% for May.

The largest contribution to May's decline came from food stores, the Office for National Statistics noted, where sales fell by 5.7%. Evidence suggests the easing of hospitality restrictions diverted some spending to pubs and restaurants after months of eating and drinking at home.

Pub gardens and other outdoor hospitality reopened alongside non-essential retail in mid-April, and fully resumed in May with the restart of indoor dining and drinking.

Non-food stores saw a 2.3% rise in monthly sales, with household goods stores - such as hardware and furniture stores - reporting growth of 9.0%.

While overall UK retail sales declined in May, when combined with April average total retail sales volumes were still 7.7% higher than in March and up 9.1% on February 2020's pre-pandemic level.

Year-on-year, May retail sales surged 25% - distorted by the UK's first national lockdown a year ago.

"Following a sharp increase last month coinciding with post-lockdown reopening, retail sales dipped slightly in May. However, they remain well above both their pre-pandemic levels and those seen in March before shops reopened," said Darren Morgan, director for Economic Statistics at the ONS.

"Food stores sales suffered as feedback suggested the reopening of hospitality meant consumers took advantage of eating out instead," he noted.

By Lucy Heming; lucyheming@alliancenews.com

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