UK retail sales fall by most on record as coronavirus lockdown hits

UK retail sales fall by most on record as coronavirus lockdown hits
Above, shoppers walk at a nearly empty Electric Avenue in Brixton, south London on April 23, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 24 April 2020

UK retail sales fall by most on record as coronavirus lockdown hits

UK retail sales fall by most on record as coronavirus lockdown hits
  • Despite a surge in shopping for food, overall sales volumes plunged by 5.1 percent in March from February

LONDON: British retail sales fell by the most on record in March, official figures showed on Friday, reflecting the hit from the coronavirus shutdown which closed many businesses in the second half of the month.
Despite a surge in shopping for food, overall sales volumes plunged by 5.1 percent in March from February, a bigger fall than a median forecast for a drop of 4.0 percent in a Reuters poll of economists.
It was the sharpest drop since the Office for National Statistics records began in 1996.
A longer-running series which excludes fuel sales dropped by the most since it began in 1988, down by 3.7 percent on the month.
Compared with March last year, total sales were down 5.8 percent, also a bigger fall than expected by economists in the poll and the largest on record.
Food sales volumes were up by a record 10.4 percent in March from February as many people stocked up on essentials for the government’s stay-at-home order.
But clothing sales tumbled by 34.8 percent, the ONS said.