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MNI REALITY CHECK: UK March Retail Sales Hit By Clothing Slide

--Grocery Stockpiling, Internet Shopping Unlikely To Fill Lockdown Void
     LONDON (MNI) - UK March retail sales will come in very weak, as online
clothes shopping slumps and other categories fall much more than the overall 5%
decline foreseen by City analysts,outweighing a surge in supermarket trade,
industry leaders told MNI.
     Key points from their comments ahead of the April 24 report:
     **UK grocery spend up more than 20% in four weeks to March 22. Supermarket
sales account for 38% of retail sales by volume, official data shows.
     **March online clothes sales decline 5.7%.
     **Apparel sales fall to zero at some outlets.
BIRA: "Thirty percent of our members may not re-open ... Sales will not recover
to a normal level for 18 months ... and I don't know how many of these shops can
survive 18 months of low sales."
"Online clothing sales fell through the floor in March." While anecdotal reports
suggest that British shoppers have increasingly turned to the internet, total
online sales actually declined by 5.7% in March over the same period a year
earlier, Mulcahy said.
     Some categories of internet sales skyrocketed in March, with house and
garden purchases jumping by 80%, but sales in the more-heavily weighted clothing
sector plunged by more than 40% on an annual basis, he said.
     REVOLUT SPOKESMAN: "Spending patterns were certainly different in March.
There was a doubling of sales for Playstation while Moonpig, the onlines
greetings card firm, saw sales increase by nearly 160%."
     "The hospitality sector saw the greatest downturn. Spending was down 86% at
pub group Weatherspoon's, while Pret a Manger sales fell 82%."
     FRASER MCKEVITT, KANTAR: "'March was a record month for UK grocery sales,
with overall spending up more than 20% in the 4-weeks to March 22, boosted by
stockpiling, then slowing to a more normal level when the lockdown kicked in."
     BUDGENS SUPERMARKET FUEL SALES SPOKESMAN: "Petrol and diesel sales were
sharply lower in the final week or so of the month as the full scale lock-down
licked in. Certainly many people may have filled their tanks before retreating
indoors, but there was no large scale stockpiling-type boost and not even the
slump in unleaded prices to around a pound a gallon helped."
     "By the end of March, forecourt fuel sales were around 80% lower than
     JOE STATON, CHIEF ECONOMIST, GFK: "Online spending unsurprisingly picked up
into late March as the lockdown kicked in. However, mid-month saw a surge of
demand for the time of year in durable goods as people prepared for the
likelihood of a then approaching lockdown. Sales of home office equipment rose
sharply -- monitor sales jumped 360% -- and freezer sales rose around 600%."
--MNI London Bureau; +44 203 865 3829; email:
[TOPICS: MABRC$,M$B$$$,M$E$$$,MT$$$$,MX$$$$]

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