Retail sales collapsed by more than a third in April

Figures from the Central Statisitics Office lay bare the lockdown costs on all types of shops

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show there was a 35.4 per cent in April when compared to March.

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show there was a 35.4 per cent in April when compared to March.

 

Retail sales collapsed by more than a third in April in what was the worst month for shops in more than a decade as they grappled with the shutdown of the economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show there was a 35.4 per cent fall in April when compared to March on a seasonally adjusted basis.

It was the largest monthly decrease since January 2009 when retail sales fell by 16.8 per cent.

The collapse is all the more stark as it follows a monthly decrease of 12.5 per cent recorded for March when the Government announced the closure of shops and pubs. On an annual basis, volume decreased by 43.3 per cent in April.

When motor trades are excluded, the volume of retail sales decreased by 23.7 per cent in April over the previous month and decreased by 24.8 per cent when compared with April 2019.

The only sector to show a volume increase between March and April was food, beverages and tobacco.

These sales increased by 1.8 per cent in specialised stores, which do not include supermarkets, while non-specialised stores, which do include supermarkets, saw volumes increase by 1.6 per cent.

All other retail sectors showed major collapses in volume compared to March. The most significant reduction was in furniture and lighting, which was down 84.1 per cent.

Bar sales decreased by 77.1 per cent, while clothing, footwear and textiles were down 73.6 per cent.

Elsewhere, motor trades fell 71 per cent, while sales in department stores were down 69.7 per cent.

Books, newspapers and stationery lost more than half their sales – down 54.4 per cent – whereas hardware, paints and glass shed 53.5 per cent, and electrical goods were down 44.3 per cent.

Finally, sale of fuel was down 40.9 per cent, while other retail sales were down 31.8 per cent, and pharmaceuticals, medical and cosmetic sales were down 24.8 per cent.

Reflecting the Government restrictions on movement since the outbreak of Covid-19, online sales represented 15.5 per cent of the total turnover for all businesses.

That was the highest online share since collection of this breakdown began in November 2018.

All sectors saw an increase in the proportion of online sales in April compared to March 2020 and April 2019.

The proportion of clothing, footwear and textiles sold online increased almost eight fold compared to March. Some 81 per cent of all clothing, footwear and textiles sales were online.

The proportion of electrical goods sold online increased from 15.2 per cent in March to more than 60 per cent in April.

There was a decrease of 35.9 per cent in the value of retail sales in April when compared with March and there was an annual decrease of 44.8 per cent when compared with April 2019.

If motor trades are excluded, there was a decrease of 23.8 per cent in the value of retail sales in the month and a decrease of 26.5 per cent in the annual figure.