UK retail shows best quarter on record

UK retail shows best quarter on record

2020 was a turbulent year in which much of retail bounced between being open and closed, significantly impacting sales and the ability to make meaningful comparisons. In this context, all 2021 figures are compared with 2019 (pre-pandemic). This means our 2021 figures are now year-on-two-years (Yo2Y), rather than year-on-year (YoY).


Covering the five weeks 30 May – 3 July 2021

  • On a Total basis, sales increased by 13.1 percent in June (Yo2Y), against a decline of 1.3 percent in June 2019 (YoY). This is above the 3-month average growth of 10.4 percent (Yo2Y)
  • UK retail sales increased 17.0 percent on a Like-for-like basis from June 2019, when they had decreased 1.6 percent from the preceding year. Online sales play a far greater role in LFL, so has increased the growth rate significantly.
  • Over the three months to June, In-Store sales of Non-Food items declined 0.1 percent on a Total and increased 47.0 percent on a like-for-like basis. This is worse than the 2019 Total average decline of 3.1 percent. However, for June, the total in-store sales and the like-for-like sales (excluding temporarily closed stores) saw strong growth.
  • Over the three months to June, Food sales increased 7.9 percent on a Total basis and 9.1 percent on a like-for-like basis. This is higher than the 2019 Total average growth of 1.4 percent. For the month of June, Food was in growth year-on-year.
  • Over the three months to June, Non-Food retail sales increased by 12.4 percent on a Total basis and 45.2 percent on a like-for-like basis. This is above the 2019 Total average decline of 1.3 percent. For the month of June, Non-Food was in growth year-on-year.
  • Online Non-Food sales increased by 31.3 percent in June, against a growth of 1.5 percent in June 2019. This is below the 3-mth average of 40.3 percent.
  • Non-Food Online penetration rate decreased from 49.7 percent in June 2020 to 39.3 percent this June.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

"The second quarter of 2021 saw exceptional growth as the gradual unlocking of the UK economy encouraged a release of pent-up demand built up over previous lockdowns. In June, while growth in food sales begun to slow, non-food sales were bolstered by growing consumer confidence and the continued unleashing of consumer demand. With many people taking staycations, or cheaper UK-based holidays, many have found they have a little extra to spend at the shops, with strong growth in-store in June. Fashion and footwear did well while the sun was out in the first half of June, while the start of Euro 2020 provided a boost for TVs, snack food and beer.

“Nonetheless, UK retail is still facing strong headwinds with many retailers still making up for ground lost during the previous lockdowns. City centre retailers continue to suffer low footfall and spending as commuters and international tourist numbers remained well below pre-pandemic levels. Consumer comfort with the next stage of the roadmap will be key to the ongoing success of retail. Many customers are looking forward to a return to a more normal shopping experience, while others may be discouraged by the change in face covering rules. The Government will need to reassure the public on safety, while pushing forward with its hugely successful vaccination programme. The public will also need to be understanding of one another during the easing of restrictions; there has been a big rise in violence and abuse against retail workers during the pandemic and colleagues cannot be put in the firing line because of this change in policy."

Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail | KPMG

“Retail sales growth continued in June, albeit at a slower rate as the re-opening of hospitality and leisure sectors led to a dilution in consumer spending.  The fight for share of wallet is underway, as consumers unleash pent up demand for social activities as restrictions in the UK continue to unwind.

“Whilst the high street saw continued growth in June, with sales up 10 percent, online sales fell back by 7 percent compared to June 2020.  However, penetration rates for online sales remain much higher than their pre-pandemic levels, suggesting the shift to online is here to stay.  Sales of men and women’s clothing and footwear have started to recover with double digit growth across all channels, but there were unsurprising declines across those categories which had seen a boom in lockdown, such as technology and home accessories and furnishings.

“Retailers are facing challenges on a number of fronts, particularly convincing consumers that it’s safe to shop in store as restrictions around mask wearing and social distancing come to an end.  With travel now looking to be back on the agenda for summer and Government COVID-19 support packages slowly coming to an end, retailers will be hoping that the feel good factor from Euro 2020 and lifting of COVID-19 restrictions will give the high street the summer boost it needs.”

Food & Drink sector performance | Susan Barratt, CEO | IGD

“The food and drink sector has continued to put in a resilient performance this month; comparisons to 2020 remain challenging thanks to the impact of last year’s lockdown, but sales are still significantly elevated against 2019 levels.

“As restrictions continue to ease, IGD ShopperVista insight signals a return to more established shopping behaviour; one in five (22 percent) of shoppers made more trips to stores in June to buy food and groceries, compared to just 15 percent in May ‘21. As people get out and about more, food-to-go missions are also recovering; 20 percent of shoppers carried out a food-to-go mission on their most recent trip, compared to 16 percent last month. As restrictions are lifted and with the end of the working from home directive, it is likely that we will see food-to-go missions continue to recover and grow.”



YoY Figures:

  • Total = 10.4 percent
  • Like-for-Like = 6.7 percent

Q2 2021 (Apr-Jun) saw the best growth (10.4 percent Yo2Y / 28.4 percent YoY) on record. This is based on Yo2Y results since Jan 2021, and YoY results since 1995.

The BRC sent this release to our "General Retail" and "Monitors" media lists. To check/update what media lists you are on, please contact us below:

For Media Enquiries:

Tom Holder
BRC Press Office
T: 020 7854 8924
M: 07772382432
E: /

Emma Murray
PR Manager, KPMG
T: 0207 694 6506
M: 07920 870 623

Laura John

Corporate Communications Manager, IGD

T: 01923 851986

M: 07453 018505

About the British Retail Consortium

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