E-commerce shored up crumbling high street in August, says ParcelHero

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August’s ONS retail figures reveal overall sales continue to fall, down -0.9% against the previous month. Once again, only an online sales uplift helped save the day, says ParcelHero

The Office for National Statistics’ retail sales figures for August reveal more bad news for the high street. Despite the end of almost all Covid restrictions, overall sales actually fell in August, down -0.9% in volume against July.

In contrast, online sales rose once again, up 1.5% against the previous month. That’s unexpected news, says the home delivery expert ParcelHero.

ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, says: “The ending of restrictions such as social distancing and compulsory mask wearing in stores this summer was supposed to bring life back to the High Street. Retailers hoping for a mini boom will be gravely disappointed.

“The return of consumers to the High Street has definitely faltered. Department stores reported a fall of -3.7% in monthly sales volumes in August. Part of the problem was the increasing lack of availability of some products, caused by the growing driver shortage and, for electrical goods retailers, a global problem in sourcing microchips. Department stores reported the largest percentage of stock shortages, at -18.2%.

“In contrast, the online sales for stores selling items including computer and telecoms equipment soared by 5%, showing shoppers were quick to return to the internet to beat High Street shortages.

“In all, 27.7% of all retail sales in August were made online, that’s up from the 27.1% reported in July. To highlight the scale of the growth of e-commerce, online took just 19.7% of overall sales in February 2020, before the pandemic hit the UK.

“There certainly is hope for High Street stores longer term, but that’s only if retailers successfully integrate in-store shopping with online options.”

To find out why retailers must improve their combined “brick and click” services to survive the pandemic, see ParcelHero’s new study on the High Street of the future at: https://www.parcelhero.com/research/shop-of-the-future