Sales at clothing stores plummet during pandemic

© Can Stock Photo / fiphoto

While most businesses have been put to the test during the pandemic, a new report by the Conference Board of Canada suggested clothing retailers have been hit especially hard.

The Conference Board of Canada released data on Friday that showed sales at the nation’s clothing stores had plummeted 85 per cent since February.

The result is not altogether unexpected. While consumers have been able to continue to buy online, brick and mortar stores have been shut down for months.

Senior Economist at the CBoC, Richard Forbes, believes a recovery in overall retail sales started in May, just as economies across Canada just began to reopen.

The data also showed overall retail sales fell 26.4 per cent in April compared to March and have fallen off by a third since February. Stores in Ontario and Quebec had the most significant declines, and more consumers did their shopping online. E-commerce sales increased by 38.2 per cent in March, and another 56 per cent in April.

Despite being allowed to operate curbside service and delivery, the food and beverage sector posted a 12.7 per cent drop in sales. The CBoC suggested while households stockpiled food in March, much of the panic-buying subsided in April.

The report supports other studies that Canada experienced its worst economic downturn in decades during the second quarter of 2020, but it appears to have been short-lived. It also said the economy began to grow again in May. The economy is expected to make a full recovery next year.