Retail sales fell by a record 5.1% month-on-month in March, according to data released this morning by the Office for National Statistics.
Ulas Akincilar, Head of Trading at the online trading platform, INFINOX, writes: “The virus took just days to turn Britons into a nation of hoarders.
“On the assumption that people didn’t suddenly eat 15% more than they did the month before, March’s surge in spending on food in supermarkets suggests the Covid outbreak prompted Britons to cram their larders.
“While such panic buying stretched the supermarkets’ supply chains to the limit, it also gave their bottom lines a major boost – though the big players may be wary of making big dividend payments to shareholders any time soon.
“In the current climate, the optics of such a move would be terrible. The collapse of spending in almost every other retail sector is pushing thousands of other stores toward the abyss.
“High street fashion retailers face a wasteland of zero sales and piles of unsold stock which will be steadily going out of style. While online sales remain brighter, and several online only brands have been bullish about their prospects, it’s an open question how keen people are to dress up just to slouch on the sofa all day.
“Unless you’re an online alcohol retailer, there is almost nothing to cheer in this unremittingly bleak set of data. Britain’s consumer-led economy has ground to a halt and tens of thousands of retail jobs now hang in the balance. This may have been widely expected, but the markets’ verdict is likely to be brutal.”