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March retail sales nosedive

March retail sales nosedive

UK retail sales plummeted by 27% during the first two weeks of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Overall, total retail sales in March fell by 4.3% when compared with the same month in 2019. Demand rose sharply in the early part of the month, with sales surging by 12% as shoppers stocked up on food and other essential items ahead of the restrictions coming into force.

However, the two weeks to 4 April saw a nosedive in activity after the lockdown began and drove March to the worst performance ‘when stripping out seasonal distortions’ since the survey began in 1995.

Commenting on the figures, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, said: ‘The closure of non-essential shops led to deserted high streets and high double-digit declines in sales, which even a rise in online shopping could not compensate for.’

Separately, Barclaycard figures suggested a huge boost in supermarket sales as people stockpiled food.

The data from Barclaycard suggests that supermarket purchases rose by 20% in March, while spending at restaurants contracted by 35%, and pub sales fell by 22% in the month.

 

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