A first estimate of retail sales in volume and value terms, seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted.
- Retail sales volumes grew sharply in April 2021 with a monthly increase of 9.2%, reflecting the effect of the easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions including the re-opening of all non-essential retail from 12 April in England and Wales and from 26 April in Scotland.
- Non-food stores provided the largest contribution to the monthly growth in April 2021 sales volumes, aided by strong increases of 69.4% and 25.3% in clothing stores and other non-food stores respectively.
- Retail sales volumes were 42.4% higher than in April 2020, which was affected by the first national lockdown when the tightest restrictions were in place; however, these growth rates are distorted by base effects and are not a reliable guide; sales volumes were 10.6% higher than February 2020, before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
- All retail sectors reported a fall in their proportions of online sales as physical stores re-opened during the month; as a consequence, the total proportion of sales online decreased to 30.0% in April 2021, down from 34.7% in March 2021.
- In the three months to April 2021, the volume of sales increased by 2.6% when compared with the previous three months, with strong growth in department stores and automotive fuel retailers of 9.9% and 8.9% respectively.
Retail sales in April
The value and volume of sales were both up 9.2% when compared with March 2021 reflecting the impact of the re-opening of all non-essential retail stores in April. This signalled continued recovery in the retail sector following the growth in March (5.1%) and February (1.8%). The strongest monthly growth in April 2021 came from clothing stores, other non-food stores and automotive fuel retailers of 69.4%, 25.3% and 10.6% respectively.