The UK High Street Fights Back as Online Growth Falters

The UK High Street Fights Back as Online Growth Falters

For now, it seems the UK high street is getting the upper hand in what many people perceive is an unwinnable battle. In July, retail sales bounced back to pre-COVID levels while online sales fell by 7% according to the ONS retail figures.

Let’s face it; most of us enjoy the convenience of shopping for goods and services online. However, some of us frequently have a crisis of conscience; wanting wherever possible to support the high streets and local shops. In this day and age, most of us are conditioned to hunt out the best prices via the most straightforward route. This is the almost insurmountable problem facing traditional retail.

UK retail sales bounce back in 2020

For many years, traditional retailers have tried to find ways to hold back the march of the internet, and for now, it seems to be working. The latest ONS retail figures reveal sales values rose 4.4% over June, with the number of sales actually 3% up on February’s pre-pandemic levels. In contrast to clothing stores’ 11.9% growth, online sales fell back by 7%, compared to the previous month.

ParcelHero says these figures show that it is physical store sales that are now leading retail’s recovery. Even though the online sales juggernaut has slowed down, however, that doesn’t mean the future of town centre stores is secure.

David Jinks MILT, Head of Consumer Research for ParcelHero says: “At last, High Street retailers have some news to celebrate. Non-food store sales grew 10% in July, with fashion stores leading the charge with an 11.9% growth. Household goods stores actually rose an impressive 6% against pre-pandemic levels in February. All this is hugely encouraging and shows consumers still want to visit physical stores if they can feel safe.

However, any retailer who still thinks online sales are an extra – not a key part – of their overall sales strategy shouldn’t get too smug. Online sales are still an enormous 50.4% higher than they were in February before the pandemic hit the UK. These latest figures show that e-commerce gobbled 28.9% of all retail sales in the UK.

That’s a drop from a peak of 31.9% at the height of lockdown, but still significantly more than the 20% of all sales achieved in February before coronavirus hit. This recovery remains fragile, and fears of a second wave of the Covid-19 virus, once children return to school, could quickly halt the progress seen in July.

To repeat our mantra, an omnichannel sales strategy, embracing both shop and online sales, with both services complementing the other, is the only way forward for stores as retail claws its way back from the clutches of the coronavirus.”

For more information on how retailers can compare and contrast carriers’ prices and services, see ParcelHero’s updated guide at

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The UK High Street Fights Back as Online Growth Falters 2


Editorial Team

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