Online drives 5.7% rise in April sales

Woman shopping

UK retail sales increased 5.7% in April on a like-for-like basis from April 2019, when they had increased 2.0% from the preceding year, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

The like-for-like figure has been calculated excluding temporarily closed stores but including online sales; the figure is primarily driven by online sales.

On a Total basis, sales decreased by 19.1% in April, against an increase of 2.4% in April 2019. This is the worst decline recorded since the monitor began in January 1995, reflecting the effect of lockdown measures.

Over the three months to April, Food sales increased 6.0% on a like-for-like basis and 4.5% on a total basis. This is higher than the 12-month total average growth of 1.6%. For the month of April, Food was in decline year-on-year.

BRC boss Helen Dickinson (pictured) said: “With lockdown measures in full swing, April saw a record fall in retail sales. Food sales were disappointing, with the virus preventing large family gatherings and turning Easter into a more modest affair.

“Coronavirus has accelerated many of the trends seen prior to the outbreak and it is likely that as the lockdown wears on, these new shopping habits – such as the trend towards online purchases – will become more entrenched for many consumers.

“While retailers have a lifeline through various government loans and support, they need to know this will continue beyond the current deadlines. Government should also step in to support on rents for those retailers still facing rent costs, despite little or no sales. Without this, businesses may be forced to close – threatening jobs and further harming local communities.”