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UK retail sales saw record fall in April

UK retail sales suffered a record decline in April as covid-19 lockdown measures took their toll. Figures from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG in their… View Article

FOOD & DRINK

UK retail sales saw record fall in April

UK retail sales suffered a record decline in April as covid-19 lockdown measures took their toll.

Figures from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG in their monthly retail sales monitor reveal that total sales decreased by 19.1% in April. This was the worst decline recorded since the monitor began in January 1995.

On a like-for-like basis, sales rose by 5.7% from April 2019, but this figure excludes temporarily closed stores which means the increase was primarily driven by online sales.

Over the three months to April, in-store sales of non-food items dropped by 36% on a total basis and by 17.3% on a like-for-like basis. During the same period, total and like-for-like food sales increased by 4.5% and 6% respectively.

Meanwhile, non-food retail sales fell by 4.4% on a like-for-like basis and by 17.5% on a total basis.

Helen Dickinson BRC chief executive, said: “With lockdown measures in full swing, April saw a record fall in retail sales. Food sales were disappointing, with the virus preventing large family gatherings and turning Easter into a more modest affair.

“For many non-food goods, such as clothing, footwear and large household items, the decline was particularly steep as consumers responded to lockdown conditions.

“The proportion of goods purchased online rose sharply, with products such as games consoles, bicycles, office equipment, and haberdashery, all high on the list. However, even the dramatic rise in online sales could not make up for the loss of instore purchases.”

Online non-food sales climbed by 57.9% in April compared to growth of 4% in April 2019. This meant the ​non-food online penetration rate increased from 29.9% in April 2019 to 69.9% last month.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “The disparities in retail continue, not only between ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’, but also between those with an online channel and those without. Eyes are firmly fixed on how the easing of restrictions will impact consumer spending going forwards, with the acceleration of online sales likely here to stay and overall demand in certain categories, like fashion, remaining subdued for some time.”

Photo by Georgia Hawkins.

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