UK fashion sales down by almost a third in April as lockdown continues
Online sales reached a historic high during April in the UK, but that couldn't make up for the equally historic plunge in physical retail sales, the latest High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) from BDO showed.
It said that as extraordinary measures to control the spread of coronavirus shut down Britain in April, “high street retailers suffered a catastrophic month”. Total like-for-like sales dropped 29.6% from a base of +1.8% in April 2019.
But that figure would have been worse where it not for the fact that non-store sales soared 109.6% “as Britons in lockdown had to rely increasingly on e-commerce”.
Every sector recorded steep declines and fashion total like-for-like sales sank by 31.4% from a base of +1.5% for April last year. This result represents the second consecutive double-digit decline and the first time that the category posted two negative months in a row since BDO began recording total like-for-like sales in 2017.
Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO, said: “Consumer behaviour has changed drastically during lockdown with a major acceleration in the shift from store to online. But even when restrictions ease and the high street re-opens, it seems likely that this will have a lasting impact on consumer behaviour.
“Faced with a drop in consumer confidence, worsening job security, and lower spending in the economy, retailers will have to adapt their business models and strategies for the ‘new norm’. These results reveal that almost a third of discretionary spend was wiped out in April. With such a significant amount of spend removed, retailers will be focusing on preserving cash, engaging their customers through online channels, and building operational efficiency.”
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