UK retailers suffer record sales plunge on COVID-19 hit

first_imgBritish retail sales fell by the most on record in March as a surge in food buying for the coronavirus lockdown was dwarfed by a plunge in sales of clothing and most other goods, official figures showed on Friday.Sales volumes plunged by 5.1% in March from February, the sharpest drop since the Office for National Statistics records began in 1996. It was also a bigger fall than the median forecast for a drop of 4.0% in a Reuters poll of economists.The data covered the period from March 1 to April 4 including two weeks of the government’s shutdown of much of the economy. The ONS said a longer-running series that excludes fuel sales dropped by the most since it began in 1988, down by 3.7% on the month.Food sales volumes were up by a record 10.4% in March from February as people stocked up for the government’s stay-at-home order. Sales of alcohol at specialist stores rose by a record 31.4%. But clothing sales tumbled by 34.8%, the ONS said.Compared with March last year, total sales were down 5.8%, also a bigger fall than expected by economists in the poll and the largest on record.Department stores saw monthly sales growth in March – up 2.8% – helped by their online sales capability. Non-store retailing, covering online, rose 5.9%. Britain’s economy could he heading into its deepest recession in more than 300 years, according to the country’s budget forecasters, even after the finance ministry and the Bank of England rushed out a string of emergency stimulus measures.”With widespread lockdowns only beginning around the middle of March, retail spending looks like it will fall by much more in April,” said Thomas Pugh, an economist with Capital Economics, adding a monthly fall of 20%-30% was possible.”Clearly there is huge uncertainty as to how deep the downturn proves and how long restrictions remain in place, a fall in the region of 25% in GDP over the next few months seems likely,” he said.Britain’s store-based retailers, outside of food, have been severely hit by the lockdown to counter the pandemic, with already-weak firms such as Laura Ashley, Debenhams and Oasis Warehouse falling into administration over the past month.center_img Topics :last_img read more

MPs may not remain faithful to gay marriage

first_imgONE News 30 Aug 2012Some MPs who voted in favour of passing the gay marriage Bill through its first reading last night are warning their support may end there. Labour MP Louisa Wall’s Marriage Amendment Bill now faces a select committee and two further votes before it can pass into law. Gerry Brownlee is among the MPs ONE News spoke to who are not guaranteeing their support for the controversial Bill, despite helping it pass its first hurdle in Parliament. “I think there will be a number of issues that might come out of any change that might result from the Bill going to a select committee that should be widely discussed.” Other MPs are waiting to hear public submissions before they decide. Select Committee deputy chair Chris Auchinvole said he wanted to hear both sides of the argument before he can confirm which way he will vote in the second reading. “I want to know what the arguments are and then you can come to a confirmed vote and know you’ve done the best you can,” said Auchinvole. ONE News also spoke to National MP Paul Hutchinson who voted in favour of the Bill last night. He said he wanted to see churches given the freedom to say where they stand on gay marriage before he could guarantee his vote. “It’s also absolutely vital that the churches have the right to say who they will marry and who they won’t,” said Hutchinson. read more