Biggest fall in UK retail sales since 1995 despite online boom

SourceThe Guardian
CountryMiddle east

UK retail sales suffered the biggest decline in 25 years last year as the closure of non-essential shops during lockdowns more than outweighed the online spending boom fuelled by Covid-19. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said total sales fell by 0.3% last year from the level in 2019 – the worst performance since records began in 1995 – reflecting the impact of government lockdowns and shifting consumer spending trends. However, the overall drop in spending masks an explosion in sales for some shops, and a dramatic collapse for others. Amid a decline in spending in pubs, restaurants and hotels during the crisis, sales of food bought from shops increased by 5.4% on the year. However, sales of all other products fell 5% from a year earlier. While online sales were boosted during lockdown as consumers largely stayed away from the high street, sales of non-food items in physical shops collapsed by 24%. The decline in sales volumes comes after the first annual fall since 1995 in 2019, when years of weak wage growth hurting households’ finances and Brexit fears led to a 0.1% drop in retail sales compared with 2018 levels. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said Christmas had offered little respite for more...