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UK shoppers expected to spend £408.5 billion in 2021

UK shoppers are predicted to spend £408bn in 2021, according to a new report.

The Life after Covid: Prospects for retail, hospitality and travel report, carried out by the Centre of Retail Research (CRR), shows the effect of the pandemic on retail in the UK since the first lockdown came into place in March 2020. It also looks ahead to how sales will recover and UK shoppers spending during 2021 and 2022.

Thanks to Covid-19, retail sales took a large dip in 2020 and year on year (YoY) growth between 2019 and 2020 hit an all-time low of 0.3%. However, in good news for the high street, retail sales are predicted to grow by an average of 3.5%, or £13.8bn in 2021, with British consumers expected to spend £6,150 per head this year on average.

A large proportion of this predicted growth is set to come from non-food sales (£238.3bn) with an 8.8% increase on 2020’s spend (£218.9bn). This year, as shoppers are able to visit physical stores that were previously closed for large amounts of time, consumers are set to spend £19.4bn more than in 2020 on non-food items, with fashion, cosmetics and the home and garden sectors set to see the biggest boosts.

Looking ahead to 2022 and hopefully the first full year of trading since 2019, total UK retail sales are predicted to grow by a further 5%. This accounts for an increase of £20.4bn, giving a total expected retail spend of £429.017bn by the end of 2022. This equates to £6,458 being spent per head across the country in 2022.

UK shoppers 2021Much like this year, non-food spend it set for another year of growth in 2022, but at a steadier rate of 6.6% YoY as spending habits plateau as life feels more normal, resulting in a £15.6bn sales boost.

Across all areas of the UK, retail spending is set to see a firm increase with shoppers in both 2021 and 2022. The capital is set to see the biggest boost in combined online and offline retail spending, with £76.2bn forecasts for 2021, or £8,554 per head. Spending is also forecast to remain highest in London in 2022 at £80bn total sales and £8,982 per head on average.

UK retail sales forecasts by region: 2021 and 2022 – online and offline spending combined in £billions

Region 2021 2022
Total spending Spending per head Total spending Spending per head
North East £13.137 £4,942.48 £13.794 £5,189.60
North West £39.001 £5,348.40 £40.951 £5,615.81
Yorkshire & Humberside £28.192 £5,144.60 £29.602 £5,401.82
East Midlands £25.577 £5,324.21 £26.856 £5,590.42
West Midlands £31.339 £5,310.72 £32.905 £5,576.25
East of England £40.123 £6,470.41 £42.129 £6,793.93
London £76.201 £8,554.27 £80.011 £8,981.97
South East £64.720 £7,085.60 £67.956 £7,439.87
South West £34.117 £6,092.31 £35.823 £6,396.92
Wales £15.649 £4,985.30 £16.431 £5,234.56
Scotland £31.012 £5,702.80 £32.562 £5,987.93
Northern Ireland £9.520 £5,058.44 £9.996 £5,311.36
Totals  £408.588 £429.017
Weighted average £6,150.01 £6,457.50
Simple average £5,834.96 £6,126.70

Anita Naik, Lifestyle Editor at, commented: “The last year has been difficult for the retail industry with non-essential shops being closed for a large portion of 2020 and early 2021. Despite online retail soaring as a result, the rapid changes in the ways people shopped during the pandemic has posed challenges for much of the retail industry.

“Therefore, it’s encouraging to see such large growth predicted for both this year and next as consumers return to stores and continue to shop online from the comfort of their own homes. With life returning to a semblance of ‘normality’ it’s likely Brits will be spending more with retailers than they have been used to over the last year and it’s inevitable that there will be a shift in the things they are buying as life opens up again.

“After a strange year of on and off lockdowns, it’s inevitable that so many of us are enjoying treating ourselves, but as ever, it’s important to not get carried away and spend unnecessarily.

“When shopping online it’s always a good idea to shop around for the best price. An easy way to make sure you always get the best deal is by installing DealFinder by VoucherCodes. DealFinder is a free online browser extension that automatically hunts down and applies the best deals every time you checkout.”