Retail sales in the second quarter of 2021 rose to €13.5 billion from €10.9 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 23.8%, data released Friday by independent statistical authority ELSTAT show.
That jump can be easily explained by the fact that the strict lockdown on shops was relaxed on April 5, five days into the second quarter. Shops selling clothes, shoes, jewelry, watches and toys showed the greatest increase in sales in the second quarter. All those categories involve clients trying on the products – or seeing them up close – before buying.
Despite the reopening of shops, online retail trade, which had displaced physical shopping, did not suffer, continuing to grow at a strong clip in the second quarter. Supermarket sales also continued to rise despite the fact that many expected the reopening of the rest of retail trade, as well as restaurants and cafes, to hit them.
Second-quarter retail sales were also 22.9% higher than during the same period in 2020.
First-half (January-June 2021) sales, at €24.41 billion, were 8.7% higher than those in the first half of 2020 (€22.45 billion).
Shoe shops were among the greatest beneficiaries of the reopening, with second-quarter sales (€112.46 million) rising 123.7% from the first quarter (€50.27 million), when shops remained open only for a total of 15 days. Second-quarter sales were also 50.6% higher than during the same period in 2020, when retail shops reopened a month later, in early May.
Clothes retailers saw Q2 sales rise 97.6% from Q1, to €634.73 million (from €321.15 million). Sales in jewelry and watch stores were up 98.2%, to €73.43 million, and toy sales gained 80.5%, to €209.96 million.
Supermarkets are by far the largest retail sub-sector and, in contrast to other shops, never had to physically shut down, although there were limitations on the number of customers allowed inside at any given moment. Supermarket sales, at €3.8 billion in Q2, were up 10% quarter-to-quarter and 2.1% year-on-year.
Exclusively online retailers also saw their sales rise significantly in the second quarter, despite widespread predictions they would lose ground to the reopened shops. Sales were up 36.3% from the first quarter of 2021 and 65% from the second quarter of 2020.