According to the report from the Office for National Statistics, retail sales volumes fell by 0.9% in August 2021, following a 2.8% fall in July; however, volumes were up by 0.3% in the three months to August compared with the previous three months, and in August 2021 were 4.6% higher than their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic February 2020 levels. Economists had expected a 0.5% increase in August.
Food store sales volumes fell by 1.2% in August 2021, with some evidence to suggest that the further easing of hospitality restrictions had an impact on sales; people increased their social spending such as eating and drinking at restaurants and bars.
Non-food stores reported a fall of 1.0% in sales volumes in August 2021, driven by falls in department stores (negative 3.7%) and other stores, such as sports equipment and computer stores (negative 1.2%).
Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 1.5% in August 2021 as people continued to increase their amount of travel; however, they remained 1.2% below their pre-pandemic February 2020 levels.
The proportion of retail sales online rose to 27.7% in August 2021 from 27.1% in July, substantially higher than the 19.7% in February 2020 before the pandemic.
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