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 ...read more...