Commenting on April’s ONS retail sales data, Jacqui Baker, partner and head of retail at RSM, said ‘With retail fully open for 19 days in England and only five days in Scotland, expectations for a bumper month of trading were low, but warmer days and the prospect of lunch and a G&T in the sunshine did bring shoppers out at first, lifting the mood on the High Street and encouraging spend resulting in a monthly increase of 9.2 per cent in retail sales volumes.
‘As physical stores opened their doors and amid the prospect of socialising, clothing and footwear were the biggest winners with sales growth at 69.4 per cent when compared to March 2021. Non-food stores performed well with homeware maintaining its strong performance as buyers continued to invest in home improvements.
‘Many retailers were eager for more, but the abrupt return to cold and constant downpours dampened retail spending and with the relaxation of restrictions on the same day there was tough competition for pent up consumer spend from salons, beauticians, bars and restaurants.
‘Although the weather has remained miserable throughout May, retailers will be hopeful that the lure of an in-store shopping experience combined with a sociable lunch inside will boost footfall to shift seasonal stock as we move into the summer.’