DIY and garden sales lead UK retail recovery, while online sales hit record high

The UK retail sector sales volumes increased 12% in May, compared with record falls in April, with hardware, paints and glass stores increasing 42% to help buoy the numbers.

While May’s retail performance was still down on February 2020 (by -13.1%, before the pandemic took effect on the sector), the partial rebound also saw the proportion spent online hit a record 33.4% in May, comparing the highs of 30.8% seen in April 2020.

The online sales channel has been widely reported as seeing strong growth during the Covid-19 restrictions, including in terms of B2B in the fastener sector, and B2C at a consumer and trade level. This week, Screwfix and B&Q owner Kingfisher revealed a new ecommerce strategy, with stores placed centrally in that strategy, noting that the sector has "more defences against online pure players than many other retail segments".

The statistics, produced by the Office of National Statistics, also noted that fuel sales saw a strong increase in May, but still 42.5% lower than February 2020 before government restrictions were in place.