LONDON, 5 June 2020 – British retailers saw sales plunged by nearly a fifth in May as the government’s COVID-19 lockdown measures kept shopping streets empty, a survey showed.
Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO said its monthly High Street Sales Tracker (HSST) found total like-for-like sales, consisting of both in-store and non-store (online) sales, declined by 18.3% in May – the second-worst result on record after April’s 29.6% decline.
BDO highlighted a 22.6% fall in fashion sales.
Britain went into lockdown on March 23 to slow the spread of COVID-19, with all retail stores deemed “non-essential” forced to close.
Struggling British retailers recorded record highs for online sales in May while the continued lockdown measures kept high streets empty, BDO revealed.
With many retailers continuing to trade online during the lockdown, BDO recorded a 129.5% year-on-year jump in non-store like-for-like sales – the largest increase since it began measuring in 2010.
“Despite the significant pick-up in e-commerce, the monumental collapse in discretionary spend remains stark as retailers continue to face challenging headwinds,” said Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO.
“As shops look to reopen on June 15, they will face disrupted supply chains, mounting out of season stock and reduced footfall, as well as staffing uncertainty.”
“While government support so far has provided a lifeline, the reality is that the situation on the high street will remain critical for the foreseeable future. More than ever, retailers will be looking to both central Government and local authorities for creative solutions to ensure the high street has a viable future as lockdown restrictions continue to lift.”