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Coronavirus: Fashion to be worst-hit retail sector

Clothing and footwear will be the retail sector worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, and preliminary forecasts show an expected £11.1bn decline in sales for the year, figures from GlobalData suggest.

This decline is equivalent to the combined clothing sales of Primark, Marks & Spencer and Next. It represents a 20.6% decline in growth, against the previous 2020 growth forecast of 0.6%. 

Patrick O’Brien, UK retail research director at GlobalData, said: “Clothing and footwear will be the retail sector worst hit by the coronavirus in 2020, due to its non-essential nature and the eliminated need for new clothes as the public avoids social interactions and many self-isolate. This will cause the spring/summer season to be a write-off for apparel players. 

“Retailers will be forced to cancel (as Primark has already done), postpone or redesign orders to avoid significant levels of terminal stock loss in June and July. We expect to see several fashion retailers collapse into administration as a result, with the sector already in a vulnerable state. Although the online channel will remain accessible to shoppers, we still expect to see a sharp decline in sales here as no amount of spare time at home to browse online will compensate for the lack of events for which to wear new clothes.”

The impact of coronavirus is predicted to wipe out £12.6bn from the overall retail market. This is partially offset by a growth in food sales. The UK food and grocery market is now expected to grow 7.1% in 2020 - adding £6.8bn to the previous forecast. 

The forecasts are predicated on the pandemic peaking in April and most stores being either closed or severely affected until late May. They are based on normal spending habits returning in October. 




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