The Office of National Statistics (ONS) retail figures for August show that the retail bounce-back has stumbled, says the home delivery expert ParcelHero. The value of all retail sales grew by just 0.7% in August - not the significant recovery stores had been hoping for and a marked slowdown from July’s 4.4% jump.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says it was only a boom in DIY that saved retail’s recovery from stalling altogether. “August saw a burst of DIY fever, created because people stuck at home for months realised all the jobs that needed doing as soon as lockdown eased. Hardware, paint and glass stores’ sales were up 12.9% compared to the pre-Covid levels of February.
“Once we have finished all those repairs and improvements while furloughed or working from home, where will any future growth come from? The magic of the High Street has definitely faded.
He adds that the figures reveal fashion sales have tumbled 30% this year. The ONS says clothing and footwear businesses reported a disastrous -85.7% decrease in footfall this year. With a second wave of Covid reportedly surging, the outlook seems bleak indeed.
“In contrast, online sales are up 51.6% YOY as shoppers continue to enjoy the benefits of shopping from home,” says Jinks. “Online clothing and footwear sales are up 30% on August 2019, so it’s clear many shoppers have abandoned the High Street and jumped online for fashion items. It’s true that e-commerce sales slipped a little compared to last month: -2.5% down compared to July. However, online is still gobbling over 28% of the entire retail spend, compared to the 20% share it took in February before the pandemic broke.
“High Street retailers need to create unique and enticing reasons why shoppers will want to visit their stores again. Our town centres need their own DIY fixing-up crusade to give shoppers a reason to return.
“Finally, as we’ve said many times, owners of physical stores and online stores need them to work symbiotically, with both services complementing each other. That is the only way forward for stores as retail claws its way back from the clutches of the coronavirus.”