Record fall

Food sales slump adds to gloom among retailers

shoppers on Black Friday

Last year’s Black Friday crowds are a distant memory (pic: Terry Murden)

Retailers suffered a 40.3% fall in sales in April, their worst ever monthly performance.

The slump was unsurprising in view of the nationwide shutdown of high streets, though the decline for food as well as non-food was not expected.

Analysts say that the stockpiling that took place in the early days of the lockdown may have contributed to slowing sales.

Discretionary categories bore the brunt of the fall in demand, with fashion products the most significantly affected.

However, goods that facilitated either working from home or educating children at home continued to perform well.

Even though online sales increased during the month, they were largely limited to smaller goods, as two-man deliveries were not possible due to social distancing requirements.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium which compiled the figures with KPMG, said: “What is needed now is visibility on Scotland’s route out of lockdown and a sense of the likely sequencing and timeframes of any phased re-opening of shops.

“Regardless, the collapse in retail sales will be felt well beyond any easing of the restrictions on which shops can re-open over the coming weeks.” 

Paul Martin, Partner, UK head of retail, said: “With food-sales also down slightly and online retail failing to make up the lost ground, it’s clear that the industry has a monumental challenge ahead.”

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