Dr Sinem Hidir, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick, comments on today's retail figures from ONS:
"Given the success of the vaccine program and the anticipated easing of lockdown measures, we see that customer confidence led to an increased spending in March, beating expectations at 5.4% compared to the previous month and even 1.6% higher than in Feb 2020 before lockdown measures were implemented.
"The sectors which saw the biggest rise were food spending during the Easter period, fashion, and petrol sales.
"It is crucial to note that these figures, although very positive, cover the period before the important date of 12 April when non-essential shops and outdoor dining started to open.
"Retailers will be hoping that this positivity also reflects in in-store spending, which can only be judged by the figures in the following months. Questions remain about the future of the high street, especially the many empty retail spaces due to closures of department stores, chains and independent retailers - lockdowns have seen a shift to online shopping, but its proportion in overall spending seems to have fallen slightly, albeit remaining still highly above pre pandemic levels
"With around 40 percent of UK households saying that they were able to put aside more money during the pandemic, it is anticipated that a period of higher spending is ahead."
23 April 2021
Media Relations Manager