March figures just the start of the tsunami hitting UK consumer businesses
March 2020's retail sales figures, from whatever source you look at, were dire. And that was with only part of the month under complete Coronavirus lockdown. Moreover, retail sales account for only a minority of total UK consumer spending, since they exclude some of the worst-hit sectors like restaurants, pubs, hotels and travel. ConsumerCast estimates show a year-on-year decline of 4.0% for retail as a whole, helped by a big but mostly one-off boost from grocery stockpiling, but a whopping 17.4% for consumer spending overall.
April's retail sales (more like a post-mortem) won't be available in full for more than three weeks, and will be even more dramatic in terms of decline, but they will bring with them a possible major silver lining to go with this blackest of consumer spending clouds. Retailers and consumer brands seizing their chance with this opportunity could grab a small bonanza if they are agile enough. What is it? All will be revealed in tomorrow's blog.