UK shoppers prioritise alcohol over fashion as retail sales experience record slump

Clothing sales decline in March while booze, food and online sales surge

Clothing sales tumbled by 34 per cent in March, reveal the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Overall UK retail sales fell by a record 5.1 per cent – the steepest decline since its records began in 1996 – as many shops were forced to close.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, food and online shopping saw an increase in sales revenue. Meanwhile, alcohol was a strong category boasting 32.6 per cent growth.

Online shopping as a proportion of all retail sales achieved a record high of 22 per cent, as consumers got to grips with the government’s lockdown measures.

Turning to tech

Ed Whitehead, managing director EMEA at Signifyd, believes technology is ‘playing a key role in giving retailers a fighting chance of survival.’ He says: “At a fundamental level, e-commerce  is allowing retailers to maintain or pivot operations. We have seen high street retailers, including Next and Arcadia, effectively becoming pure play online retailers. The current situation has also accelerated the adoption of certain technologies that reduce the need for human interaction. This includes automated warehousing and stock picking or click-and-collect.” 

He adds: “Demand spikes have had an impact on the service that retailers have had to be able to deal with. Without technology, larger retailers would have a very difficult time operating with its workforce scattered and working from home. Think of an enterprise retailer with online orders. Those orders need to be reviewed for signs of fraud and consumer abuse. These include false claims that an order never arrived or that the customer didn’t make the order. Both of which we have seen a surge in.”