“There was at least some relief for hard-hit fashion retailers, who were well-served by the re-opening of hospitality.” Online shopping preferred choice for many UK retail sales fell by 1.4 per cent in May following a sharp increase in April when lockdown restrictions were eased, according to new Office for National Statistics (ONS) data. The proportion of retail sales conducted online remains much higher than before the pandemic, but in May all retail sectors reported a fall in digital transactions as customers returned to stores. The monthly drop was unexpected, with economists predicting a 1.6 per cent increase. whatsapp Non-food stores reported a 2.3 per cent increase in monthly sales during May, with hardware and furniture shops posting the largest growth of nine per cent. The amount of money changing hands in UK shops was also 9.1 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels. The ONS said that the easing of hospitality restrictions led to consumers swapping supermarkets for eating and drinking out at restaurants and bars. There was also strong growth in fuel sales and non-food retailers, rising 19.3 per cent and 17.8 per cent respectively. In comparison with February 2020, the value of total online retail sales in May 2021 was almost 60 per cent higher, while in-store purchases were 1.3 per cent lower. UK retail sales fall in May as Brits swapped supermarkets for restaurants Damian Shepherd Also Read: CBI: UK economy to grow 8.2 per cent this year in return to pre-Covid level whatsapp “In the first full month of trading since non-essential retail reopened for business, it seems shoppers were all too happy to deliver on the kind of pent up demand the industry desperately needs, although the reopening of hospitality venues meant food sales took a hit.” Despite the monthly decline, over April and May combined, retail sales were still 7.7 per cent higher than in March 2021. Food store sales fell by 5.7 per cent in May. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images) Also Read: 42m Brits: Four in five UK adults given first dose of Covid vaccine “Retailers large and small will be working hard to sustain shoppers’ interest in physical stores rather than the convenience of online shopping.” Friday 18 June 2021 8:14 am Share “Despite a slight monthly decline on April, May nonetheless marked another month of progress for the retail sector,” said Lynda Petherick, retail lead at Accenture. Also Read: Sunak: Existing help for businesses hit by lockdown extension generous enough The sharp increase in sales volumes over April and May has resulted in them being 8.3 per cent higher than the previous three months. “One of the wettest Mays on record was another unfortunate blow for the high street, which has seen shoppers return in good – if not full – force since April’s re-opening,” said Aled Patchett, head of retail and consumer goods at Lloyds Bank. Boost for hardware and furniture shops The largest contribution to the decline came from food stores, where sales volumes fell by 5.7 per cent. “Pent-up consumer demand will be key to the success of UK retail in the months ahead, but as lockdown continues to ease we are seeing retailers’ share of wallet reduce slightly as the public enjoys more and more choice on where to spend their hard-earned pounds,” said Karen Johnson, head of retail & wholesale at Barclays Corporate Banking. Show Comments ▼ “Lockdown being extended for four more weeks means for many, holiday outfits will still be on hold, so it’s too soon to tell if a return to the high street will outlive the height of summer,” said Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director at Fidelity International.