Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
  2. Coronavirus
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.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

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.