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ONS Figures Show Further Impact of Pandemic on Retail

15 June 2020 - 17:07 by Graham Miller

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The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed that 30 per cent of all sales across the UK’s retail sector took place via safe shopping online over the course of April, with the effects of the coronavirus lockdown shown to have caused significant problems for the nation’s GDP.

April was indeed the most severe month for the industry on the whole, with a wide range of retailers being forced to suspend operations altogether in order to change practices and adapt to cope with the new challenges posed by the pandemic.

GDP dipped by a fifth overall, with a similar fall seen with regards to retail spending specifically. This followed on from sluggish performance in March, at a time when the country was already suffering the effects of reduced consumer confidence and uncertainty as a result of Brexit.

Study spokesperson Jonathan Athow said that the record-breaking drop in GDP reported in April was unprecedented, exceeding the previous largest drop by a factor of ten, according to Internet Retailing.

Overall the UK’s economy contracted by a quarter in the three months leading up to May, and Athow said that both imports and exports were set to be hit going forwards, making it trickier for international trade to be handled as usual.

Another important statistic published last week came from HMRC and demonstrated that almost two million employees across the retail industry were being paid partly or entirely out of the government’s furlough scheme.

With vast numbers of high street stores shuttered and even online retailers forced to operate entirely different distribution configurations to keep staff safe, it is no surprise to see just how significant the disruption has been, nor to hear that it is unlikely to return to normal in the near future.