OXFORD, ENGLAND - MARCH 22: People walk along the High Street in Oxford city centre on March 22, 2012 in Oxford, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Last year witnessed the largest drop in annual retail sales since records began over 20 years ago, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The quantity bought in retail sales through 2020 dropped nearly 2% year-on-year in 2020 as a direct result of the pandemic.

The 1.9% drop in retail sales marked the greatest ever loss since records began in 1997. This was compared to a 1% drop in 2010.


Growth in 2019, meanwhile, measured at a healthy 3.3%, making the losses in 2020 appear even more dramatic.

Elsewhere, ONS reported that all sectors of retail saw ‘large increases’ in online spending in the past 12 months.

This made for a 46.1% annual increase across all kinds of online retail by comparison to 2019. Food stores and department stores performed particularly well online in 2020.

The online boom was more than offset by the disappointing performance of brick-and-mortar retail, however. Read more below:

Christmas struggles to reinvigorate retail as high streets see almost 50% fewer shoppers in 2020