COVID-19 lockdown results in collapse of Lithuanian retail sales in April

Lithuanian retail sales crashed 17.9% y/y in April in calendar-adjusted constant prices, Statistics Lithuania said on May 27.

Sales deepened their y/y fall after declining 5.7% in annual terms in March. The collapse in April was expected after the Lithuanian government instituted a lockdown on the country’s people and businesses in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. April was the first – and the only – full month of lockdown in the Baltic state, as restrictions are being gradually lifted in May.

Lithuania had 1,647 coronavirus cases, including 66 deaths, as of May 27.

Failing retail sales will affect Lithuania’s economic growth in 2020. The coronavirus outbreak is now expected to lead to a contraction of over 7% in 2020, according to the government. The European Commission forecasts a fall of nearly 8%. GDP expanded 3.9% in 2019.

Of the main retail categories, sales of food, alcohol, and tobacco fell 12.2% y/y in April after growing 5.5% y/y the preceding month.

Sales of non-food items fell 19.4% y/y in April after retreating 14.3% y/y in March. The figure includes a crash of 71.5% y/y (-24.2% y/y in March) in sales of textiles, clothing, and footwear.

The category “food and beverage service activities” – a measure of turnover in the restaurant sector– also suffered considerable retreat in April with turnover falling 68.4% y/y (-44.9% y/y in March).

Sales of automotive fuels fell 25.2% y/y, compared to a decline of 10.8% y/y the preceding month.

In monthly seasonally and calendar-adjusted terms, sales fell 9.3% in April, compared to a decrease of 10.4% m/m in March.

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