Retail sales fall to below pre-Covid levels

21st October 2022 | Phoebe Dobke

Retail sales fell to below pre-Covid levels in September, according to ONS data, due to the cost-of-living crisis and store closures for the Queen’s funeral.

Sales volumes were down -0.3% in September compared to February 2020, while sales values jumped 11.8%, due to inflation. Month on month sales volumes dipped 1.5% and were down 6.2% compared to September 2021.

Lisa Hooker, PWC industry leader for consumer markets, said: “Worryingly, September was the first month post-lockdown when retail sales volumes dipped below pre-pandemic levels, suggesting that consumers’ post-Covid pent-up demand may have fully unwound.”

She claims that this does not bode well for retailers over the Christmas period.

“There is no question that the momentum is downward as retailers enter the critical Golden Quarter period in the run up to Christmas,”

“Political and economic uncertainty, combined with increasing utility bills and the threat of higher mortgage interest rates will put a severe dampener on consumer spending in the coming months. Lower demand, cost inflation and political uncertainty will also be weighing on retailers, who will without doubt be battening down the hatches for the bitter winter ahead.”

Grocery store sales volumes fell by 1.8% in September, which leaves them 3.2% below their pre-coronavirus levels in February 2020.

Online sales volumes dipped 3%, however this was still 18% above pre-Covid levels.


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