UK Retail Sales Continue to Recover

Ryan Kemp, director of retail at TransUnion in the UK, comments on the Retail Sales Index from the Office for National Statistics: “The latest ONS retail sales figures reveal the continuing resurgence in the industry, with a monthly increase in overall sales volumes of 0.8%. This marks the fourth consecutive month of growth, and a rise in sales volumes of 4% when compared with pre-pandemic levels in February. Home improvements have helped fuel this growth, with household goods sales up 9.9% when compared with February, as people have been forced to spend more time at home. This trend is likely to continue, given the ongoing uncertainty around possible further lockdowns.

“Online retail sales were down 2.5% compared with July, but thanks to the significant growth throughout the pandemic, this remains 46.8% higher than in February. That huge shift has brought with it increased fraud risks for retailers, as fraudsters seek to exploit rapidly changing shopping habits. Recent research from TransUnion’s Financial Hardship Study* confirms this, showing that more than a quarter of UK consumers (26%) have been targeted in a digital fraud attempt related to COVID-19. Phishing remains the most common method experienced (41%), followed by third-party seller scams on legitimate retail websites (18%). This is where fraudsters masquerade as genuine private sellers in online marketplaces, often with counterfeit or faulty goods, or even no goods at all. Both businesses and consumers need to be vigilant here and retailers should be putting in place robust tools to mitigate risk and protect their customers, as well as educating shoppers on the warning signs to look out for.”