Commenting on the latest retail sales index from the Office for National Statistics, Adam Hancox, director of retail at TransUnion in the UK, said: “It’s really encouraging to see sales bounce back following a challenging Christmas period for retailers, with the latest ONS data showing sales volumes rising by 1.9% in January 2022. It seems as though the swift post-Christmas lifting of social restrictions, that were introduced as a safety measure during the busy holiday period, has coincided with increased footfall across UK shops – with sales volumes now 3.6% higher than pre-pandemic levels recorded in February 2020.
“That said, growth might have been significantly higher if it had not been for the increasingly challenging cost-of-living crisis, already felt keenly by consumers this year. Rising inflation, with steep increases in energy prices and consumer goods, along with national insurance contributions going up in April, suggests that many consumers may consider reeling in spending, as disposable income takes a hit.
“One thing that this data has confirmed though, is just how accustomed people in the UK have become to doing their shopping online. Despite the proportion of retail sales being made online falling to 25.3% in January, they remain notably higher than the pre-pandemic levels seen in February 2020, where just 19.8% of sales were made online. With or without COVID-19 restrictions in place, it’s vital that retailers don’t deprioritise the online experience if they are to continue to give consumers the smooth digital experiences they expect in 2022.”