UK retail sales tumbled the most on record last month as the closure of non-essential stores overshadowed a historic surge in grocery purchases, reports The Financial Times.
Although the volume of food sales rose 10.4 per cent in April compared with the previous month, the strongest on record.
The volume of retail sales in the UK dropped 5.1 per cent in March compared with the previous month, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. This marked the largest drop since the ONS started producing the series in 1996 and reflects the closures of many stores from March 23 following government guidance during the pandemic.
“Retail sales saw their biggest monthly fall since records began over 30 years ago with large declines in clothing and fuel, only partially offset by strong food sales” said Rhian Murphy, ONS head of retail sales.
The volume of fuel sales, which is adjusted for price changes, fell 18.9 per cent over the same period. Sales of clothing tumbled 35 per cent. The size of the drop could not be offset even by many consumers switching to online purchases, which reached 22.3 per cent of all retailing last month, a historic peak.