Clothing sales jump 17.5% in run-up to reopening

UK retail sales volumes continued to recover in March, with clothing experiencing a particularly strong month.

Non-food stores had the biggest contribution to the monthly growth in sales volumes, with clothing stores increasing sales by 17.5 per cent, according to the latest research from ONS.

Other non-food stores saw sales surge by 13.4 per cent last month.

Overall in March, retail sales volumes increased by 5.4 per cent compared to the previous month, likely impacted by the anticipated easing of restrictions.

Sales were 1.6 per cent higher than in February 2020, before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Food stores saw monthly growth of 2.5 per cent, with particularly positive growth in specialist food stores like butchers and bakers.

The research body said that this likely reflected the continued closure of the hospitality sector over the Easter period.

Despite strong growth in March, retail sales for the quarter saw volumes drop by 5.8 per cent compared to the previous three months.

There were strong declines in both clothing stores and other non-food stores across the same period.

The proportion spent online decreased to 34.7 per cent in March 2021, down from 36.2 per cent in February 2021 but still above the 23.1 per cent reported in March 2020. ONS said that the value of online spending did increase in March, but spending in-store increased at a faster rate.

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