UK retail spending returns to pre-pandemic levels — but a 15.9% drop in clothes sales show the recovery is 'deceptive,' one expert says
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British shoppers have drastically cut back on clothes purchases since February, making clothing the worst-hit retail sector during the pandemic, according to figures released on Friday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Clothes sales in August were 15.9% below their levels in February, before the UK went into lockdown. Overall retail sales have returned to pre-pandemic levels — in total, British shoppers spent 0.7% more in August than in July, and 2.5% more than February, the ONS data showed. This was fueled by a home-improvement boom: Sales-by-volume in household goods stores were 9.9% higher than in February, the ONS reported. Marc Ostwald, chief economist at ADM Investor Services, said that this suggests a "robust recovery in consumer spending" on the surface — but the figures are "deceptive," he said. Sales in bricks-and-mortar stores have plummeted, and "considerable further job losses" will follow, he added. Separate data from the Retail Sales Inquiry and the Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey showed that fewer customers were shopping for clothes in person in August compared to February, and 85.7% of clothing stores said they had fewer customers in mid-August compared to the weeks before COVID-19 hit the UK. Online sales and footfall are both falling Online sales are dropping across most sectors, though they still remain much higher than before the pandemic. For every £100 shoppers spent in August, £28 of this was spent online, ONS data shows. This is 2.5% less than in July, but still more than 50% higher than this time last year. After "other stores," the sector that saw the highest drop in online sales other than clothing was food, the ONS reported. Online food sales were nearly 5% down in August compared to July as customers returned to supermarkets — but British shoppers are still spending nearly twice as much on grocery deliveries than last year. Total food sales across both online and physical stores fell by around 2% from July to August. Britain's "Eat Out to Help Out" scheme – which saw diners eat more than 100 million meals out in August as part of a government-subsidized scheme to boost the hospitality industry – caused supermarket sales to plummet by £155 million ($201 million) in August, research by data company Kantar shows. Footfall data from Springboard suggests that the number of shoppers visiting physical stores also fell. In the week starting 7 September, around 28% fewer shoppers visited bricks and mortar stores than the same time a year ago, compared to just a 25% decrease during the two weeks before that. Ostwald, from ADM Investor Services, said that the migration from bricks and mortar retail to online, and reduced spending on non-retail recreation and leisure activities, "will likely result in considerable further job losses, especially with escalating reintroduction of lockdown measures." UK retail jobs have nearly halved over the past year, and job cuts have reached their fastest rate since 2009, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said in August. British retailer Marks & Spencer is among those that have laid off staff during the pandemic. Over the past three months, it has announced 7,000 job cuts — 10% of its total workforce.SEE ALSO: UK retail jobs have nearly halved over the past year, as job cuts reach their fastest rate since 2009 Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid
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Summary List Placement Amazon Prime members can now get free one-hour grocery pickup at all 487...Summary List Placement Amazon Prime members can now get free one-hour grocery pickup at all 487 Whole Foods stores in the US, the e-commerce giant announced Wednesday. The service is available on orders of $35 or higher. Customers place their orders online and collect them curbside contact-free. Previously, free Whole Foods pickup was only available for Prime Members at about 150 stores. Customers ordering less than $35 of groceries, or collecting their order less than an hour after placing it, will have to pay a pickup fee. Contactless delivery options have become increasingly popular during the pandemic, and one survey showed that one in three Americans would happily never set foot in a store again. This is having an impact on footfall at Whole Foods. The grocery chain had 21% fewer visitors across its stores on October 4 compared to the same day last year, according to data by placer.ai. After first launching grocery pickup at Whole Foods stores in 2018, Amazon ramped it up during the pandemic. Between March and April, it expanded the service from around 80 stores to more than 150. As of Wednesday, it's available at every store in the country. In September, Whole Foods told Business Insider that Amazon workers picking items from shelves for online orders were crowding stores, ignoring virus protocols, and hounding them for help as online orders surged. Read more: 'It's like being in a sci-fi nightmare film': Whole Foods employees say Amazon workers are crowding stores, ignoring virus protocols, and hounding them for help as online orders surge The same month, Whole Foods also opened its first online-only grocery store in New York, which operates like a warehouse, after trialing it earlier in the pandemic. The store isn't open to the public — instead, it is used by employees at Amazon to prepare Whole Foods orders for Prime deliveries. Amazon reported in July that its online grocery sales tripled year-over-year for the second quarter, and it tripled the number of its grocery pickup locations. Earlier this month, it announced that Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods shoppers will be able to reserve a virtual spot in line when there's a surge in delivery demand at its busiest locations. If there are no delivery slots available when a customer goes to place their order, they will be notified when one becomes available.SEE ALSO: I'm a 55-year-old Amazon driver in Oregon who walks up to 10 miles a day. Prime Day was nothing compared to the pandemic. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid
Retail sales climbed 0.6 percent in August, but the increase was smaller than in previous months,...Retail sales climbed 0.6 percent in August, but the increase was smaller than in previous months, prompting concerns of a recovery that is running out of steam.
China's retail sales rise the first time this year in August, as the world's second largest economy recovers from the pandemic
Summary List Placement China's economy recovers further from COVID-19 as retail sales rose for the first...Summary List Placement China's economy recovers further from COVID-19 as retail sales rose for the first time this year. Retail sales rose by 0.5% in August compared to last year. The unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in August from 5.7% in July, but still above pre-crisis average Industrial activity rose by 5.6% year on year, marking its fifth consecutive month of increases. Economist Marc Ostwald said while China is faring better than other nations, the initial recovery momentum has also been "uneven." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Chinese retail sales rose for the first time this year in August, while industrial production increased for a fifth straight months, showing both consumers and producers in the world's second largest economy are recovering from the pandemic. Data released by China's National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday total retail sales of consumer goods were 3,357 billion yuan ($495 billion) in August, 0.5% higher compared to the same period last year and 1.25% higher than the previous month. For the first eight months of 2020, retail sales were down 8.6% on the year. Read more: A Wall Street expert breaks down why 3 smaller retailers are poised for gains amid a down economy — and says they're the best stock-market alternatives to behemoths like Costco and Target Marc Ostwald, chief economist at ADM Investor Service, said: "It remains the case that China's activity data are better than in other major economies, in part due to 'first in, first out', though the initial recovery momentum has also been palpably, though uneven." However, there were risks to the resilience of consumer spending, The urban surveyed unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in August from 5.7% in July. Ostwald said that while the jobless rate had fallen from the high seen in the second quarter of 5.9%, it was still well above the pre-crisis average of 4.5% Ostwald said the recovery in labour demand remains "tepid" given the small contraction in unemployment. Read more: Paul Lambert returned 45% to investors in 2019 and is crushing the market again this year. The solo fund manager lays out his strategy for finding winning stocks — and shares 5 of his top picks today. Industrial activity continued to increase in August, rising 5.6% year-on-year. This marked the fifth straight month of growth and the steepest since December 2019 as the economy recovered from pandemic. "In the first eight months, the total value added of the industrial enterprises above the designated size went up by 0.4 percent year on year, shifting from negative to positive," the Bureau said in a statement. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what you're actually seeing when you spot a meteor shower