‘The latest numbers show that the value and volume of retail sales both dropped in February by 0.5 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively, compared to the previous month. This was due in part to the heavy rainfall and flooding experienced across many parts of the country.
‘The figures for February were largely unaffected by the impact of coronavirus, although some operators did report reductions in shipments from China during the period. Food stores even saw their volumes reduce in February, something that will likely be reversed when the March numbers drop in next month. It will also be interesting to see the numbers on wider e-commerce sales in the March period, as most people work from home.
‘What’s clear is that even before coronavirus hit, many operators were already struggling. The shock from the complete collapse in revenues in March will put many on the critical list, regardless of the welcome and much needed Government support packages.
‘With such uncertainty surrounding the length of the lockdown, it is likely to be some time before normality – and consumer confidence – returns. When that happens, the high street as we know it now may look very different indeed.’