As lockdown restrictions reduced economic activity, new figures show that many retailers are facing tough times.
According to government statistics, GDP fell in November 2020 to 8.5% below the levels seen in February, in comparison to being 6.1% below February levels in October 2020.
In the 12 months to November 2020, GDP fell by 8.9%, compared with an annual decline of 6.8% to October.
Dominika Nowicka, a supervisor at shoe retailer Dune, said: “When we opened the store after [the November] lockdown, our footwear [sales] percentage was -50%.
“Half of our customers who used to come in were not coming in due to COVID. We would end the day by not reaching the daily [sales] target. Sometimes it could have been -£200.”
The manager of Nike Factory Store in Wembley, Isabel Carvalho-Monaghan, said that her company was prepared for the current lockdown, but stated that: “I don’t think retail is going to be the same for a really long time. I very much feel like were the leaders of the marketplace in that respect. We’re constantly re-evaluating our strategies to make sure it is safe for our staff and consumers.”
“Retail is an ever-changing environment. It’s so fast-paced that if you don’t keep up with the times you can be left behind. I think because COVID was such a shock many businesses didn’t have the resources to stay afloat.”
There were falls in output in all 14 services sub-sectors between October and November 2020. The largest contributor to this fall was accommodation and food service activities, followed by wholesale and retail trade, because of the reintroduction of restrictions in some parts of the UK. These four sectors accounted for nearly 80% of the fall in services.
A report from the Office for National Statistics, covering dates 14 and 27 December 2020, found that 42% of businesses currently trading reported their turnover has decreased below what is normally expected for December, compared with 45% reporting decreases at the end of November. Retailers, hairdressers and other beauty treatment activities were as high as 69%.