In August 2020, retail sales volumes increased by 0.8% when compared with July – the fourth consecutive month of growth, resulting in an increase of 4.0% when compared with February’s pre-pandemic level. Meanwhile, consumers are also placing increasing importance on sustainable and ethical sourcing and manufacture, while demanding greater payment flexibility

Sector at a glance

    • 1/3 - The proportion of consumer spending that went through retail in 2018

    • 26% - The proportion of internet sales as a percentage of retail sales in August 2020
    • 10% - The growth of the UK retail sector between 2015 and 2019

    Bags of potential

    The British public likes to spend big, shelling out an estimated £33bn on Christmas gifts alone in 2019, which equates to £500 per person. According to market research company Retail Economics, the total value of UK retail sales in 2019 was £394bn.

    Before the pandemic, consumer confidence was dampened by Brexit uncertainty. However, lockdown unzipped Britain’s purses once more as people turned to retail therapy. By August 2020, total retail sales volumes were 4% higher than just before lockdown. Home improvement and food shopping went a long way to driving this growth.

    Online sales jumped 51% year-on-year to August 2020 as a result of social distancing and lockdowns. This dramatic shift is expected to accelerate long-term trends such as direct-to-consumer selling and a seamless online shopping process is more important than ever.

    With high standards demanded by Britain’s shoppers, who are also increasingly concerned with sustainability, retailers who make it here have a strong proposition. The cream of the crop join generations of British brands whose names are recognised internationally, too.