Retail sales in the UK were also plummeting before the coronavirus paralyzed the UK highway, according to official data.
The amount spent by buyers in February fell 0.5% and the volume of products purchased 0.3% less than the previous month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Thursday.
The sales volume in February was also no higher than a year earlier, the lowest growth rate of the past seven years. Several retailers have experienced heavy rains and have highlighted some disruptions of the Chinese supply chains of the time.
But the ONS said that when the data was collected, retailers were “largely unaffected” by recent coronavirus developments.
Now experts are warning the coronavirus and the government blockade in Britain and its trading partners could trigger the UK’s worst recession in modern history, with many retailers suffering a particular blow.
Since then many stores have not been able to trade after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the closure of nonessential stores on Monday. Only those nicknamed “essential” can continue to function and the decisions of some retailers to remain open have sparked controversy.
Large numbers are expected to rely on the broad package of economic support measures presented by the British government over the past two weeks. They are designed to keep retailers, hospitality companies and other businesses afloat during unprecedented closures.
Public holidays, state-guaranteed loans, subsidies and payroll subsidies that would otherwise be fired were announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
The figures come a day after separate official data showed that the inflation rate has slightly decreased with the collapse of oil prices (BZ = F, CL = F).
Average prices of common goods and services in Great Britain rose 1.7% in February compared to a year earlier, in line with analysts’ forecasts and down from 1.8% in January.
An analyst predicted a slump in demand for many products and falling real wages would limit businesses, including the ability of retailers to raise prices. Capital Economics economist Ruth Gregory predicted that inflation will drop below 1% in the coming months.
Another poll released this week suggests that UK business has slowed in the past month since the height of the financial crisis over a decade ago.
The slowdown between February and March marks the strongest monthly decline on the UK Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) since IHS Markit began collecting in 1998.
Both the manufacturing industry and the dominant service sector in the UK, including everything from banks to retailers, have experienced sudden and sharp drops in work. Companies say that the demand for goods and services collapsed when an increasing number of companies and families closed their doors.