Retail Sales Drop Alongside ‘Pingdemic’ and Shifts in Spending

Dominic Goslett, director of retail at TransUnion in the UK, comments on the latest retail sales index from the Office for National Statistics:

“After months of growth, the latest ONS retail statistics show a small 2.5% decrease in retail sales between June and July 2021. The “pingdemic”, where large numbers of the population have been told to isolate at home, is likely to have been a contributing factor, as is the end of the European Football Championship which boosted food store sales in June, as these fell 1.5% by comparison in July. Additionally with lockdown restrictions lifting, consumers are also likely to be spending more on other sectors, such as travel and hospitality over retail, as our recent consumer research has shown.

“Many retailers are currently dealing with supply issues, as recent difficulties with trade barriers have meant many large companies are struggling to acquire certain products and supplies. This is likely to be an ongoing problem, as the UK continues negotiations post-Brexit, and may well continue to impact retail sales.

“Nevertheless, retail sales volumes remained 5.8% higher in July than pre-pandemic levels in February 2020, according to the ONS, signalling an encouraging degree of longer-term stability for the sector. Online sales also increased in July and are still significantly higher than before the pandemic, with the popularity of online shopping here to stay.

“With these figures in mind, it’s clear just how important it is that retailers can deliver consistent customer experiences both online and in person and that they can adapt to changing trends. For some, that will mean diversifying and identifying specific areas of growth, by tuning into their customers’ needs and having the right data and insights at their disposal to tailor the customer experience accordingly.”