Euros snacking boosts retail spend

Danni Hewson
23 July 2021

Danni Hewson AJ Bell financial analyst, comments on the latest retail figures:


“The crisp aisle in my local supermarket told the tale writ large in the latest UK retail figures; the day England trounced Germany the shelves looked like they’d been ravaged by nacho-loving hordes. The surge in instore food sales helped give a nice little lift to the sector which had seen a fall-back last month as consumers flocked back to bars and restaurants.

“With life finding its new normal more people were filling up their vehicles either for the commute or for a pleasure jaunt, but sales are still down on pre-pandemic levels with hybrid working expected to keep a lid on the number of times drivers need to go back to the pumps.

“Supply chain issues have reared their head with delays in shipments of furniture and appliances pulling non-food sales down. It’s a huge concern for retailers going forward, particularly as they start to ready stores for what is a hugely important Christmas.

“A number of clothing retailers have blamed the weather for falling sales in June and that’s reflected in the latest ONS data with sales down 4.7%. But the rain can’t take all the responsibility, many people will have simply bought what they need for the season, some will have had their social lives limited by the burgeoning “pingdemic” and others will simply be taking a cautious approach to budgeting. Secondhand sales have spiked, with thrifty consumers searching for bargains among shelves crammed with people’s lockdown decluttering.

“But bricks and mortar retailers will take comfort from the fact that online sales have fallen for the fourth month in a row. Shopping as an experience rather than a necessity can’t be done on a tablet. Online still accounts for more than a quarter of sales, way up from pre-pandemic levels and unlikely to fall back much more. High street stores need to think about their place in the retail jigsaw. Lack of stock particularly in popular sizes is an irritation for shoppers who’ve dragged themselves off their sofas for a little retail therapy only to be denied, even the opportunity of trying an item on.

“What these figures do share with us is the fact that people are spending and they’re embracing every new opportunity that comes their way. Novelty, excitement, opportunity, all key factors after months of constraints. Whether new freedoms will tempt more people out or push people to stay away from busy indoor spaces is a difficult question to answer and savings can only be spent once.”

Danni Hewson
Financial Analyst

Danni spent more than 19 years at the BBC, presenting and reporting on business news across a variety of programmes – including BBC Breakfast, BBC News Channel, BBC Look North and latterly Radio 5 Live’s flagship business programme ‘Wake up to Money’. She is now responsible for producing analysis and commentary across a broad range of subjects at AJ Bell, from financial markets, to economics and personal finance.

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