News High Street Sales Plunge As Online Sales Soar



High street sales plunge as online sales soar
22nd May 2020

Retail sales experienced a decline of 18.1% in April, an Office for National Statistics report has revealed today (Friday) – the biggest monthly fall since records began.

The report shows that all store types suffered a decline in volume sales due to the coronavirus restrictions imposed on March 23. However, non-store retailing increased by a corresponding 18% – and there was an increase of 2.3% reported by alcohol stores!

Unsurprisingly perhaps, online sales soared to the highest on record, at 30.7%, compared with 19.1% reported for the same period last year.

Some store types – especially department and clothing stores – reported zero turnover due to temporary closure.

The record fall of 18.1% in April followed a fall of 5.2% in March.


There was a decline of 4.1% for food stores, but this was mainly due to a fall back from the strong growth of 10.1% in March. Retailers provided feedback of panic-buying in March, which caused a sales spike.

During the month, 13.6% of alcohol and tobacco stores reported having zero turnover, however, the volume of sales for the sector overall increased by 2.3%, a further rise from the strong growth of 23.9% in March.

The only other category to show an increase in volume sales on the month was non-store retailing, reaching record levels at 18% growth in April. Many consumers switched to online shopping, with only 3.5% of online retailers reporting zero turnover.

The majority of fuel stores continued to trade, with just 3.3% reporting zero turnover, although movement restrictions meant that fuel sales declined by a record 52% in April.

All stores within the non-food store sector had record falls, with clothing stores experiencing the biggest month on month decline at 50.2%, continuing the sharp decline in March where sales fell by 34.9%.