Retail recovery?

Retail sales, Great Britain: June 2020 – ONS

  • In June 2020, the volume of retail sales increased by 13.9% when compared with May 2020 as non-food and fuel stores continue their recovery from the sharp falls experienced since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • The two monthly increases in the volume of retail sales in May and June 2020 have brought total sales to a similar level as before the coronavirus pandemic; however, there is a mixed picture in different store types.
  • In June, while non-food stores and fuel sales show strong monthly growths in the volume of sales at 45.5% and 21.5% respectively, levels have still not recovered from the sharp falls experienced in March and April.
  • Food stores and non-store retailing both reached new high levels since the start of the pandemic, with volume food sales 5.3% higher, and non-store retailing 53.6% higher, than February.
  • In the three months to June, the volume of sales decreased by 9.5% when compared with the previous three months, with declines across all store types except food stores and non-store retailing.
  • The proportion of online spending reduced to 31.8% in June when compared with the record 33.3% reported in May, but is a considerable increase from the 20.0% reported in February.

 

What’s happening in the labour market?

Labour market overview, UK: July 2020 – ONS

For March to May 2020:

  • the estimated UK unemployment rate for all people was 3.9%; 0.1 percentage points higher than a year earlier but largely unchanged on the quarter
  • the estimated UK unemployment rate for men was 4.0%; this is 0.1 percentage points higher than a year earlier but 0.2 percentage points down on the quarter
  • the estimated UK unemployment rate for women was 3.8%; this is 0.2 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.1 percentage points higher on the quarter

A larger than usual proportion of those leaving employment are not currently looking for a new job and therefore becoming economically inactive, rather than unemployed. In addition, an increased number of respondents who were previously unemployed have moved to economic inactivity in March to May 2020, suggesting that some who were previously unemployed are no longer looking for work.

For March to May 2020:

  • the estimated economic inactivity rate for all people was 20.4%; this is down by 0.4 percentage points on the year but up 0.2 percentage points on the quarter
  • the estimated economic inactivity rate for men was 16.5%; this is up by 0.1 percentage points on the year and up a joint record high of 0.5 percentage points on the quarter
  • the estimated economic inactivity rate for women was 24.3%; this is down by 0.9 percentage points on the year and down by 0.1 percentage points on the quarter

Those who are economically inactive and who want a job increased by a record 257,000 on the year and a record 253,000 on the quarter, while those who do not want a job decreased by a record 414,000 on the year and 161,000 on the quarter. This suggests that people who want employment are not currently looking for work, and further explains why we are not seeing a large rise in unemployment.

For March to May 2020:

  • the estimated employment rate for all people was 76.4%; this is 0.3 percentage points up on the year but 0.2 percentage points down on the quarter
  • the estimated employment rate for men was 80.1%; this is 0.1 percentage points down on the year and 0.4 percentage points down on the quarter
  • the estimated employment rate for women was 72.7%; this is 0.7 percentage points up on the year but largely unchanged on the quarter

Despite the estimated fall in employment of 126,000 on the quarter, the estimated number of redundancies has not increased significantly over the period. Instead, experimental estimates based on returns for individual weeks suggest the number of respondents starting a new job declined greatly through the March to May period compared with the same period in previous years.

Retail improving but High Streets still struggling

Shoppers are coming back to the high street but the retail sector is still struggling to return to normal

Retail sales rose by 3.4 per cent in June.

Sales grew for the first time since the lockdown was imposed and at their fastest rate since May 2018.

Online sales of non-food items increased by 48.2 per cent in June, up from 3.3 per cent in June 2019 and above the 12-month average growth rate of 17.1 per cent.

In-store sales of non-food items declined by 46.8 per cent. This was worse than the 12-month average of -16.5 per cent.

Over the three months to June, non-food retail sales fell by 15 per cent.

Food retailers performed strongly, with sales rising by 3.8 per cent on an overall basis. This was higher than the 12-month average growth rate of 2.7 per cent.

Shopping trips still only half last year’s level

UK shopping visits are still only at half the level of last year and the reopening of pubs and cafes failed to deliver a hoped-for boost, according to industry figures

Footfall was down 49.6% for the week ending 4 July compared to the same week a year ago

An improvement on the previous week – up by 15.3%

Hospitality, leisure and entertainment over the weekend of the 4-5 July grow by 19% compared to the previous weekend