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24 April 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Record falls in UK retail sales in March

By Samuel Horti

UK retail sales fell at the fastest rate ever recorded in March as sales of clothes dived by 35 per cent, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The total sales volume drop of 5.1 per cent was the steepest fall since the ONS began recording figures in 1996. Sales were down 5.8 per cent compared to March last year, the biggest year-on-year fall on record.

Food sales jumped by a record 10.4 per cent and alcohol sales at specialist stores rose by a record 31.4 per cent. But sales of most other goods fell as many shops closed their doors.

Online shopping as a proportion of all retail reached a record high of 22 per cent.

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Experts warned April’s figures could prove much worse: Thomas Pugh, an economist with Capital Economics, said sales could fall by as much as 30 per cent this month.