Retail Sales Fall as Consumers Reel in Spending

Adam Hancox, director of retail for TransUnion in the UK, comments on the latest retail sales index from the Office for National Statistics (ONS):

“The latest monthly figures from the Office for National Statistics show retail sales volumes falling by 0.5% following a rise of 0.4% in April. Much of this was driven by a drop in food store sales – reiterating the impact of increasing grocery prices amid the rising cost of living, with inflation hitting a 40-year-high of 9.1% earlier this month. 

“However, fuel sales volumes rose by 1.1%, which could be attributed to the continued transition to hybrid working, along with personal leisure travel over the Platinum Jubilee weekend. There was also an increase (2.2%) for in-store clothing sales, which may be because shoppers have been preparing for the impending summer holidays.

“Overall, the proportion of retail sales online fell slightly in May to 26.6% but is still much higher than before the pandemic began in February 2020 when it was 19.7%, affirming that these changes in consumer habits are here to stay.

“Retailers are likely to feel the repercussions of rapid shifts in consumer spending and be prepared that there may be continued instability ahead. Building consumer trust will be pivotal for brands to ensure consumer loyalty through challenging times. Understanding what your customers want and providing reliable customer experiences adapted to their needs is critical.”