Press releases

Deloitte comments on ONS retail sales

22 May 2020

Commenting on today’s ONS retail sales figures, Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte, said:

“Retail sales values and volumes continued to decline throughout April, by 18.7% and 18.1% respectively, as retailers navigated strong headwinds posed by COVID-19. The UK’s first full month of lockdown measures exposed a sharp divide in retail, not only between those in food and non-food, but also between online and in-store sales as physical shops closed.

“Food sales volumes have fallen this month, down 4.1%, as initial consumer stockpiling eased and supply chains caught up with the increased demand. However, in a significant jump, online food sales now account for 9.3% of all food sales, testament to the ability of supermarkets to pivot supply chains and boost their online platforms to manage more home deliveries.

“Whilst the start of lockdown paused non-food sales in physical stores, the virtual high street has seen sales boosted this month, reaching a record 30.7%. This is likely to be aided by the continued online presence of many stores, and some early discounting of mounting seasonal stock.

“Many non-food retailers will be looking to garden centres and hardware stores to see what challenges may be to come. For food retailers, adapting to consumer behaviour will be key, be it a return to little-and-often shops, or a continuation of home deliveries at today’s levels.

“Whilst current government guidelines hint towards a reopening of more retail space from the start of next month, Deloitte research found that half of food and non-food retailers expect to have at least 41% of store estate open by the end of June, with the remaining half more optimistic, planning the reopening of between 81% and 100% of all store estate.”


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