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Press release

Retail trade

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In May 2020 estimates for value of seasonally adjusted retail trade index rose by 24.3% in the month on month series, after plummeting at record levels in March and April, due to restrictions and temporary closure of stores during Covid-19 pandemic. Likewise, volume of sales grew by 25.2% when compared to the previous month. Therefore, estimates seems to confirm that retail trade reached a turning point in the Covid-19 crisis in April 2020 and partially started to recover from the loss in May 2020.

Despite the increase in the month on month series, the underlying pattern in the three months to May 2020 shows a decline, as both value and volume of sales fell by 20.6% and 21.8% respectively.

When compared with May 2019, the value of sales dropped by 10.5% and the volume was down 11.9%

Comparing with the same month a year earlier, large-scale distribution fell by 4.4%, small-scale distribution decreased by 18.8% and non-store sales was down 23.0%. Notwithstanding the fall, these channels of distribution show a reduction of the year on year loss recorded in the two previous months.

Internet sales increased by 41.7% when compared with the same month a year earlier, the highest growth on record, suggesting a shift within the retail trade to online sales.

Looking at the value of sales for non-food products, a fall was seen across most of the categories in the year on year series. This drop resulted in low levels for Clothing (-38.1%), Optical instruments and photographic equipment (-37.4%), Shoes, leather goods and travel items (-34.8%). Growths were registered for Computers and telecommunications equipment (+12.4%) and Tools (+5.6%).

The Covid-19 emergency did not affect the data collection of the survey concerning May 2020, as no loss in the response rate was registered. Changes in data elaboration process were introduced in order to catch the impact of pandemic on the retail trade sector and release accurate indices for May 2020, (for further details see Methodological note, page 8).

Reference period: May 2020

Date of Issue: 07 July 2020

Next release: 31 July 2020

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