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UK Retailers Report Strong May Sales After Lockdown Ends By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People shop at Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, as restrictions on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ease, in London, Britain, on April 12, 2021. REUTERS / Henry Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) – British retailers reported a large increase in sales in May, after closure measures ended the previous month and a relaxation of COVID restrictions on hospitality drew more shoppers to city centers. , industry data showed Tuesday.

The British Retail Consortium said total sales among its members, which include supermarkets and chain stores, were 10% higher last month than in May two years ago.

This was the largest increase in sales compared to 2019 for any month since the start of the pandemic.

“The rain in May failed to slow down consumer demand and shoppers continued to return to the main street,” said Paul Martin, head of retail sales for survey sponsor KPMG.

Compared to May 2020, when most non-food retailers closed due to lockdown restrictions, total sales were up 28.4%.

Clothing, shoes and furniture saw especially strong gains in sales, BRC said, benefiting from shoppers being able to see the products in person as nonessential retailers were allowed to reopen in April after months of closure.

The relaxed restrictions on socializing also encouraged shoppers to buy new summer clothes.

Payment processor Barclaycard, which handles nearly half of all credit and debit card transactions, said consumer spending was 7.6% higher than in May two years ago.

Pubs and restaurants were able to serve customers indoors as of May 17, although only at reduced capacity.

Barclaycard said spending on restaurants last month was still 54% below its level of two years ago, while spending on pubs and bars was 19% lower. But this was an improvement over April, when sales were down 74% and 67% respectively.

Travel abroad remains severely restricted. Spending with airlines was 74% lower than in May 2019, little better than in April.

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