High street fashion sales in March fell by 25.9% – the worst sales on record for the category – the BDO High Street Sales Tracker shows.
Overall in-store sales for the month dropped by 34.1%, as coronavirus fears hit footfall, even before stores were ordered to close on 23 March.
Overall non-store retail sales rose by 13.7%. However, overall sales for the month plummeted by 17.9%.
Sophie Michael, national head of retail and wholesale for BDO, said: “While government-mandated social-distancing measures were only brought in at the end of March, the spread of Covid-19 began to affect retailers much earlier through disruption to supply chains and a gradual pull-back from consumers.
“Although it is too early to assess the full-scale impact on the economy, it is already clear that economic growth expectations will be drastically cut as recessionary forces mount.
“Consumer spending on discretionary items is an immediate casualty of the circumstances with reports suggesting a notable decline in major purchases over the coming months. The government has already announced some relief measures for beleaguered businesses. However, as many retailers rely solely on non-store channels to maintain sales revenue through this period of lockdown, there will be need for additional support in the months ahead.”