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Retail sales rise above pre-pandemic levels

Overall retail sales in the UK have bounced back from the effects of the coronavirus lockdown, data from the Office for National Statistics shows.

In July 2020, retail sales volumes increased by 3.6% when compared with June, and were 3% higher than in February 2020.

This was despite monthly decreases in sales volume for food stores and non-store retailing, by 3.1% and 2.1% respectively.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said the figures "mask a crisis under way in some parts of the retail industry".

"While food and online have shown growth, the hustle and bustle of shoppers and workers has yet to return to major town and city centres, continuing to impact sales significantly in those locations.

"In-store non-food sales were down over £1.6bn per week during lockdown and July's uplift reported by the ONS doesn't make up for that lost ground."

Clothing store sales were the worst hit during lockdown, and while they increased by 11.9% between June and July, they remained 25.7% lower than they were in February.

Meanwhile, online sales decreased by 7% month-on-month in July, but were still 50% higher than their pre-pandemic levels.

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