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FTSE sluggish despite retail sales beating expectations

by LLB Editor
21st May 21 10:55 am

After a late bounce on Thursday the FTSE 100 was just struggling to stay afloat on Friday morning as investors continue to navigate turbulent and murky waters.

Bitcoin’s extreme volatility this week just added to existing worries like inflation and the pandemic which have impeded equity markets’ progress so far in 2021.

German PMI data was a two-speed affair with factory activity decelerating at the same time as the services sector plays catch up.

“There was a ray of sunshine in the form of better-than-expected UK retail sales – which unsurprisingly showed a shift from online to physical stores in April as shops reopened,” says AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

“Massive increases in sales of clothes and shoes demonstrated that people were keen to refresh their wardrobes.

“Numbers from greetings card seller Card Factory offered a snapshot in microcosm of what retailers can likely expect in the coming months with shoppers visiting less frequently but buying more when they are there.

“This probably reflects some continuing nervousness about being in crowds too frequently, a degree of pent-up demand and the fact some people have lockdown savings to spend.

“The savvy retail operators will take note and adapt accordingly, ensuring good stock management so that people aren’t disappointed by not being able to find what they want when they make that more selective trip to the high street, shopping mall or retail park.

“A greater share for online is here to stay given the convenience factor and the prime retailers will want to ensure they don’t neglect their web-based offering just because they can now trade from physical outlets.

“Hospitality bosses will be eyeing these retail figures greedily and hoping their share of this consumer spending boom isn’t derailed by new Covid variants or the need to deviate from the unlocking roadmap or even tighten restrictions.”

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