U.K. Consumer Boom Hands Retailers Their Best Ever Quarter

Growing consumer confidence and the unleashing of pent-up demand after months of lockdown delivered the U.K. retail sector its best quarter on record, a survey published Tuesday found.

The British Retail Consortium and KPMG said sales were 13.1% higher in June than in the same month of 2019, buoyed by spending on summer clothing and footwear. The start of the Euro 2020 soccer tournament also fueled demand for TVs, snack food and beer. Sales in the second quarter jumped by 10.4%.

U.K. Consumer Boom Hands Retailers Their Best Ever Quarter

The U.K. is enjoying a consumer boom after limited opportunities to spend during more than a year of restrictions led to cash piling up in bank accounts. The BRC figures were reinforced by data from Barclaycard, which showed consumer spending on credit and debit cards rising 11.1% versus June 2019 amid demand for vacations in the U.K. and outdoor socializing.

With indoor hospitality reopening in mid-May, spending on hotels, resorts and accommodation grew for the first time since the pandemic began, Barclaycard said.

The retail sector is still facing strong headwinds, with many retailers still making up for ground lost during the lockdowns, said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC.

“City center retailers continue to suffer low footfall and spending as commuters and international tourist numbers remained well below pre-pandemic levels,” Dickinson said. She warned that the scrapping of in-store face covering rules from July 19 could discourage some people from visiting stores.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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