The Covid-19 coronavirus crisis continues to be a threat to the survival of shops up and down the country, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned.
British retail sales fell by a record 18.1% in April as shops were shuttered under lockdown restrictions, Office for National Statistics data shows. The drop in April was on top of a 5.2% fall in March, when non-essential stores were first ordered to close.
Kyle Monk, head of retail insight and analytics at the BRC, said: “The Retail Sales Index confirms what store managers and shop owners have already seen – that coronavirus continues to be a threat to the survival of shops up and down the country. Clothing stores were particularly hard hit by lockdown, with sales down almost 70% since February. Many of these stores will be relying on a successful opening in June if they are to survive. Digital sales soared, with the proportion spent online rising to three in every 10 pounds. Not only were many items ordinarily found on the high street only available online, but many people moved to food delivery in response to the coronavirus threat.
“Retailers urgently need clarity on the reopening of shops in June. Shops need time to prepare and the certainty to do so, before they spend millions on necessary safety and social distancing measures. By getting more of retail up and running, not only can customers get all the products they need, but the industry can play its part in protecting jobs and kick-starting the economy.”