Retail sales slid 5.1% in the month following a 0.3% decline in February, as many nonessential stores shut down following a government decree. The consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday was for sales to decline 3.5% in March. Sales at clothing stores slumped 34.8%, while food stores and non-store retailing were the only sectors to experience growth in the month, with sales at food stores climbing 10.4% and non-store retailing growing 5.9%. “
"The sharp monthly rise in food retail likely reflects the stockpiling ahead of the lockdowns," wrote Kallum Pickering, senior economist at Berenberg, in a note. "Expect a sharp correction in April."
Online sales jumped 8.3% and comprised a record high of 22.3% of all retailing in March.
In value terms, retail sales fell 5.7% over the prior month.
On an annual basis, retail sales volume declined 5.8% while retail sales value dropped 6.0% in March.