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Decline in Retail Sales Not Offset by Surge in Online Shopping

25 May 2020 - 11:58 by Graham Miller

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While more people have been taking advantage of safe shopping online than ever before in response to the lockdown caused by the ongoing pandemic, statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that this shift has not been able to counteract the overall decline in activity across the industry.

Internet Retailing reports that an impressive 30 per cent of all sales made last month were attributed to e-commerce outlets, although there was an 18 per cent drop in spending overall compared with the same period in 2019.

In spite of this, a few other intriguing figures relating to the growth of online shopping were published by the official statistical body, with online grocery sales proving especially popular, rising by 55 per cent month on month.

More impressive still is the fact that 44 per cent of sales not related to groceries and consumables were carried out via the web, largely as a result of the fact that most non-essential bricks and mortar retail outlets were required to close as a result of government rule changes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were some slumps in spending across particular product categories, with fashion seeing a 14.5 per cent drop even in the e-commerce sector. With millions of people staying at home, there was simply less demand for clothing and footwear, and this looks set to continue for the foreseeable even with some lockdown restrictions being relaxed to a degree.

While the availability of certain products was affected initially as the ramifications of coronavirus had an impact in the UK, supplies have generally caught up with demand, and the current state of play has more to do with the fact that consumers are simply less confident at the moment so are choosing to save cash rather than spending it.