// Retail sales reported the sharpest fall on record in March
// ONS said total sales volumes dived 5.1% as many stores shut their doors amid the lockdown
// Clothing store sales saw a particularly sharp fall, plunging 34.8%
Retail sales reported the sharpest fall on record last month as clothing sales plunged by a third, according to new figures from the ONS.
Total sales volumes in March dived 5.1 per cent compared to February, as many stores shut their doors in the face of the coronavirus. On a year-on-year basis, sales volume declined 5.8 per cent.
On a total sales value basis, March’s figures dropped 5.7 per cent compared to February and six per cent on a year-on-year basis.
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The ONS added that clothing store sales saw a particularly sharp fall when compared with February, plunging 34.8 per cent.
Food stores reported their strongest growth on record in March, as sales jumped 10.4 per cent with shoppers stocking up on essential groceries.
Supermarkets saw sales volumes increase by 10.3 per cent while alcohol-focused stores saw a 31.4 per cent surge in volumes.
Meanwhile the ONS said the total value of online food sales in March was more than double the same month last year, rising by 101 per cent.
“Retail sales saw their biggest monthly fall since records began over 30 years ago with large declines in clothing and fuel, only partially offset by strong food sales,” ONS head of sales Rhian Murphy said.
“Online-only retailers saw strong growth though, with many high street stores also unsurprisingly seeing a boost to web sales.”
Total sales declined as increases in online sales failed to offset lower in-store sales, after non-essential stores were told to close their doors on March 23.
It said a record high of 22.3 per cent of sales were made online as delivery operations continued.
with PA Wires