Press releases

Deloitte comments on ONS retail sales

24 April 2020

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

“After a promising start to the year, pressures mounting from the outbreak of COVID-19 have seen both retail sales values and volumes decline month-on-month, -5.7% and -5.1% respectively.

“The combination of a UK-wide lockdown, closure of many physical stores, and consumer confidence at a historic low, has posed a significant challenge to all retailers, albeit with differing consequences across retail sectors.

“Those trading in essential goods, particularly food, have seen sales increase by 3.9%, month-on-month. However, the non-food category has seen the greatest decline as lockdown measures pressed an indefinite pause on the UK high street.

“More positively, an uplift in online sales has enabled some non-food retailers to continue trading, particularly those able to quickly adapt warehouse and supply chain logistics to safely do so. Whilst this is unlikely to have entirely offset lost in-store sales, a number of specific items have seen increased demand. An influx of remote working has fuelled sales in home office equipment, for example, whilst fitness-conscious consumers have continued exercise routines with the purchase of home gym equipment. Additionally, with schools closed, many parents have also sought to keep children entertained at home during this time, driving sales of board games, arts and craft, and educational toys in the absence of formal lessons.

“During this unsettled period, the vital role that grocers are playing towards the national effort and keeping the nation fed cannot be underestimated. The contribution of retail’s key workers is testament to the industry’s resilience and adaptability.”

End

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