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April Retail Sales Volumes Experience Record Decline

Consumer Spending

Retail Sales Volumes declined a record-breaking amount in April, as hundreds of thousands of businesses were forced to close as a result of the Government enforced lockdown.

The total volume of retail sales according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) fell by 18.1% in April compared to the previous months, following a drop of 5.2% in March compared to February.

The Clothing category was hardest hit, falling by 50.2% compared to March, a month which had itself seen drops of 34.9% from February’s figures. Sales from household goods stores fell 45.4%, on the back of an 8.7% drop from February to March. Supermarkets also saw a fall of 2.8%, having seen sales increase 10.4% in March.

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The results come in the same week Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned the UK is “likely to face a severe recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen”.

The only sectors making hay in the current in the current climate were non-store retailing, such as online only and catalogue businesses, and off licences. Non-store retailing saw rises of 18%, while off licences saw sales increase by 2.3%.

The proportion spent online rose to 30.7% in April, the highest on record, up from 19.1% over the same month last year. Almost all store types reached record proportions of online spending in April, the ONS said, as many retailers shifted to online trading only.

Jonathan Athow, ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “The effects of Covid-19 have contributed to a record monthly fall in retail sales of nearly a fifth.

“Fuel and clothing sales fell significantly while spending on food also dropped after the surge from the panic buying seen last month. Off-licence sales, however, continued to increase.

“Online shopping has again surged as people purchased goods from their homes.”

Source: Insight DIY & ONS

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22 May 2020

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