Coronavirus: in the Uk, the retail sales plummet in April

LONDON | retail sales recorded a dip to a record of more than 18% in April in the United Kingdom because of the containment measures to combat the pandemic of coronavirus, with a collapse of more than half for the purchase of clothing.

It is a strong acceleration on a month of falling sales, which had already shrunk from 5.2% in march compared to February, while the period only included the first week of the containment introduced on the 23rd of march in the United Kingdom, while it remained in force throughout the month of April, shows Friday the Office for national statistics (ONS).

All sectors of the economy have recorded a fall in sales in April, saw the closing general stores out of food or are considered essential.

Even food sales were down in April (-4 %), because after surging to a record of purchases so-called “panic” before the confinement and the constitution of stocks, the households are less provided in those stores that remain open, especially as the health measures, with limited number of people in the interior led to long queues.

The clothing sector has been particularly hard hit (-50% in volume), after having already dropped 34 % in the previous month. The boss of the chain of low-cost fashion Next had noted from the beginning of the confinement that “people don’t buy a new outfit for staying at home”.

Gas stations have also suffered particularly (-52 %) because of the ban on travel. In contrast, online sales are experiencing a record increase of 18 %, and purchases of alcohol have increased (+ 2,3 %), mainly because the pubs and restaurants were closed.

“The bottom has probably been reached in April, given that some shops have started to reopen partially in may. The consumer could plunge 25 % in the second quarter compared with the first, which would be a little better than the 30 % that we had considered,” notes the research house Capital Economics in a note.

At the same time the ONS announced on Friday that the government borrowing (excluding nationalised banks) in April amounted to 62.1 billion pounds (about 106 billion dollars), or 51.1 billion more than a year ago.