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Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

May 22, 2020

The UK Office for National Statistics reports that UK retail sales decreased sharply in April 2020 as the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic appeared in the data.                                                                                                                                   

  • Month over month retail sales values decreased 18.7 per cent while the retail sales volume (adjusted for price changes) decreased 18.1 per cent over March 2020.
  • Year-over-year retail sales values decreased 23.1 per cent and retail sales volumes decreased 22.6 per cent over March 2019
  • With the shock from COVID-19 causing such a sharp decline in April retail sales, comparisons of year-to-date growth provide little insight about the changes in economic conditions.  



The Office for National Statistics noted that COVID-19 had a significant impact on retail activity in the UK during April 2020.  Many non-essential stores ceased trading as of March 23, 2020.  Non-store retailing (+18.0 per cent) and alcohol stores (+2.3 per cent) reported strong year-over-year growth while clothing sales (-50.2 per cent) were down substantially.  The imposition of travel restrictions and oil price fluctuations during the pandemic resulted in significantly lower values and volumes of fuel sales.  

Internet sales

  • Year-over-year Internet Sales increased by 30.7 per cent over April 2019.
  • Online sales share of all retail sales increased to 22.4 per cent. 

Source: UK Office for National Statistics: Statistical BulletinRetail Sales Data, COVID-19 and the production of statistics 

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