UK retail sales slumped in January as national lockdowns saw huge numbers of shops shutting their doors.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes fell 8.2% last month – significantly worse than analyst expectations, with a consensus of economists predicting a 2.5% decline.
Sales had increased by 0.3% in December, as Christmas demand and the relaxation of previous pandemic restrictions briefly buoyed retailers.
The January slump was less severe than in the first UK lockdown, but retail sales volumes remain 5.5% below pre-pandemic levels from February last year.
There was a surge in online trading, with e-commerce hitting a record proportion of 35.2% of all sales.
All sectors saw a decline in sales, except for non-store retailers and food retailers, which reported 3.7% and 1.4% jumps respectively.