UK retailers have worst month since 2008

UK retailers suffered the biggest fall in sales since the financial crisis in 2008 in the first two months of April as coronavirus lockdown measures battered the sector, a survey has shown. Load Error Every part of the retail sector was hit hard this month, according to the CBI’s distributive trades survey. Even grocers and specialist food and drink shops reported falling sales as the economy all but ground to a halt. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has returned to work this week after coming down with coronavirus, yesterday urged caution. Gallery: Coronavirus outbreak leaves otherwise bustling spots deserted (Photos) With people restricting themselves to their homes and avoiding travel in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, tourism has taken a decline and some of the world's most popular destinations are now left deserted or see just a few tourists visiting. A woman walks across the deserted Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall in Milan, Italy, on March 10. The retail health index by professional services firm KPMG and pollster Ipsos fell three points to 71 in the first quarter of the year – a new record low. This suggests “households may have been dipping into stockpiles built up prior to the lockdown or tightening their belts more generally as incomes take a hit,” said CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith. Newton-Smith said the government’s worker support scheme, which pays 80 per cent of “furloughed” workers’ wages, had helped prevent higher levels of unemployment.