Retail’s recovery is underway

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have said that retail sales in April were 10.6% above their pre-pandemic level, although many traditional retailers have suffered from the repeated lockdowns that accelerated the shift to online commerce.

In a huge boost for retail’s recovery Britain’s longest-running survey of consumer sentiment, showed that morale in May was back at where it was just before the country first went into lockdown in March 2020.

Retail sales across the UK increased 9.2% in April 2021 when compared to the previous month, as the easing of restrictions included the opening of non-essential retail across England, Wales, and Scotland during the period.

According to ONS data, retail sales grew 42.4% year-on-year, with 10.6% growth in April and a 69.4% monthly spike in fashion sales.

Moreover, overall retail sales for the three months to April 2021 climbed 2.6% in comparison to the previous three months, as department stores and automotive fuel retailers grew 9.9% and 8.9% respectively.

The Bank of England will be keeping a close watch on retail sales, although they will be expecting a surge in spending as households spend savings built up during lockdowns, with forecasts that the economy will grow by 7.25% this year after slumping by nearly 10% in 2020, its biggest decline in more than 300 years.

The return to physical retail has directly impacted the proportion of online sales in April 2021, which declined 4.7% month-by-month to 30%.

A note of caution………..

While we welcome the recovery of one of our key verticals, there are linked issues which can act as a drag on continued recovery.

The challenges of building and maintaining inventory in the face of massive consumer demand and over-stretched supply chains is highlighted by reports today of building materials running short, leaving vital construction projects in doubt and building companies under pressure.

With demand globally increasing and the UK importing many of its raw materials, lead times for orders are lengthening while prices are shooting up, which is why we work closely with our clients, to future-plan their shipping requirements.

The Ever Given’s blocking of the Suez Canal for a week has had a massively detrimental impact on global shipping, but events don’t need to be that rare to cause disruption. Even naturally occurring events, like the Cyclone’s Yaas and Orissa, which hit India this week, will massively disrupt the country’s logistics infrastructure, that will impact operations for weeks.

It is in adapting your purchase order and shipping planning, to work around disruptions like this, that our supply chain management platform MVT, really comes into its own.

With visibility and control to SKU level, users have the ability to transform nature-ravaged supply chains on-screen, from the confirm of their home office.

Retail participation is ‘therapy’ and there are huge amounts of built up disposable income to  be spent and a desire to consume in the UK. This is having a direct effect on the global shipping and logistics sector with demand probably at its highest for the movement of goods to market in decades – on all trade routes and in all regions of the world. The result is the challenges that are being experienced in every sector of business that are proving less reliable than they were pre-pandemic and at a much higher cost. This is unfortunately the reality of the dynamics of the last 12 months with relentless pressure on all modes of transport. For the UK, final withdrawal from The EU on 1st January of this year, has been an added burden not experienced by other European countries further accentuating the situation we are currently experiencing as a Nation.

Metro drives retail customers success, by developing their ability to source, trade and grow internationally, with innovation and market leading supply chain methods and strategies.  We will continue to advise on the global freight market and the consequences that are changing daily across the sector. We will offer recommendations and the best alternatives that are fit for purpose in the market and always support our customers’ requirements, needs and expectations. It’s what we do – and we hope to do it well !

Please contact Grant Liddell or Elliot Carlie, or any of our colleagues at Metro and our associated busineses, to discuss how we can optimise your supply chain and drive your business forward to more success.