Despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on household incomes, shoppers across the UK have continued to spend, promoting the retail sector.
Official figures have shown that for the fifth consecutive month, retail sales increased, boosted by non-food items including DIY and garden supplies. Between August and September, retail sales volumes increased by 1.5%.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said: “While food sales have done well in recent months as people have eaten out less, non-food store sales have now made a recovery at 1.7% above their February levels.
“Home improvement sales continued to do well in September, with increased sales in household goods and garden items within ‘other’ non-food stores.”
Online sales also contributed to the increase in retail sales as most shoppers resorted to buying online due to Covid-19 restrictions. In the month of September, the proportion of online sales was 27.5%, compared with 20.1% reported in the month of February.
Currently, sales are 5.5% higher than the pre-pandemic levels seen in the month of February.
Retail sales volumes increased by 17.4 per cent within the three months to September, compared to the previous three months.
However, analysts have warned that the increase was unlikely to last as the new restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus would plummet sales.
The head of retail at Accenture UKI, Lynda Petherick said: “There’s no doubting that UK consumers have been doing their bit to boost the economy, following a quarter of record retail sales growth.
“There’s little time for retailers to gather breath, though, and they will already be wondering – or perhaps dreading – what lies ahead in Q4.
“This should be a time for excitement as the crucial ‘golden quarter’ for retail is now underway. However, with lockdown measures across the UK tightening by the day, retailers are braced for a difficult and unconventional end to the year.”