Retail sales by volume fell a record 18.1% in April, official data showed.

The month-on-month decline followed a 5.2% slide in March. Apparel retailers were especially hard hit as volume plummeted 50.2% month on month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported.

As the coronavirus pandemic hit stores’ performance following the lockdown, non-store retailing was the only industry sector to record a rise in volume sales – up 18%.

The ONS reported that the proportion spent online “soared to the highest on record” last month when it reached 30.7% – up from 19.1% in April 2019.

By value, retail sales excluding fuel fell 18% year on year and 15.3% month on month.

Over the month, when many bricks-and-mortar businesses were closed, 14.3% of stores generated zero turnover. 

Department stores were most prominent in that group. Almost 40% experienced zero turnover, followed by textile, clothing and footwear shops at 27.6%. A comparatively low 7.4% of supermarkets generated zero sales, rising to 28.7% among specialist food stores.