As parents start to look to the new school year, UK retailers are already preparing for a strong back-to-school shopping season.

According to a survey by Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, UK retail sales excluding petrol are expected to grow 12% during the 16 August to 19 September back-to-school period compared with the same time pre-pandemic in 2019. Year-on-year, sales are predicted to grow 6.7% compared with 2020.

This anticipated growth builds on positive retail momentum, as total retail sales rose 4.2% year-on-year in July, fuelled by pent-up demand and lifting of restrictions.

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Fashion will be a big winner in the back-to-school shopping sprees. Clothing sales are expected to increase by 18.7% compared with the same time last year, as people flock to the shops to buy new school uniforms and office clothing. The trend for improving our homes has not abated with the lifting of restrictions, with furniture sales forecast to increase 11% year on year as we continue to update our living and home office spaces.  This is closely followed by technology, as electronics sales are forecast to increase by 8.9% year-on-year.

“Back to school has always been a key shopping time for retailers. This year, the broader reopening of the High Street brings an exciting wave of optimism as children prepare for what is hopefully an uninterrupted school year,”said Kelly Devine, divisional president of Mastercard UK & Ireland. “This back-to-school season will be defined by choice as online sales remain robust and brick-and-mortar browsing regains momentum as shoppers seek to make up for lost time.”

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