Non-food stores reported a fall of 1.4% in sales volumes in September 2021, which was mainly due to a 9.3% decrease in household goods stores such as furniture and lighting stores, and other non-food stores such as sports equipment stores, which dropped by 1.7%.
Despite relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions in summer 2021, in-store retail sales remained subdued. However, the proportion of retail sales online rose to 28.1% in September 2021 from 27.9% in August, which was “substantially” higher than the 19.7% in February 2020 before the pandemic.
Overall, retail sales volumes over the last three months fell by 3.9% when compared with the previous three months, partly because of strong sales in April when non-essential retailing re-opened.
Aled Patchett, head of retail and consumer goods at Lloyds Bank, said: “Consumers spending their weekends queuing for petrol further curbed sales in September after what was already a poor end to the summer.
“Even as we enter the traditionally buoyant golden quarter – normally the busiest period for retailers in the run up to Christmas – a number of challenges threaten to undermine confidence. Chief among these are the current high gas prices which create a challenge on two fronts by increasing operating costs and reducing the spending power of consumers.”
He added: “While these issues are likely to persist for some time yet, alongside rising stock costs and HGV driver shortages, retailers will hope that consumer plans to banish the memories of a particularly dour festive period last year go undeterred.”