The lockdown’s effect on the month of April strongly impacts Italian business, with -91.3% recorded for physical stores and +213.8% for online channels, a statistic which however does not compensate for the profit lost while closed. The data collected by the Confimprese-Ey permanent observatory on consumer trends in the restaurant, apparel, and non-food industries outlines how the worst results were those of the clothing industry down -98.8% compared to April 2019, while the restaurant business (-84%) compensated in part for its losses thanks to delivery services.
The regions and provinces of the South suffered more than the North, recording a drop of -96.5%.
Physical sales channels were completely negative as a result of the decrees issued by the government and the behaviour of consumers: the trends of shopping malls and outlets were the worst (-98% and -99%). Instead, sales were slightly better in the main cities (-92.1%) and for stores in the smallest towns and suburbs (-87.4%).
A consequence of this trend was less cash available to businesses that had to face problems related to rent and employment. In fact, a survey conducted by the Confinprese-EY Research Centre highlights how a good 90% of businesses during the lockdown cancelled their SEPA direct debits for the early payment of their rent in the April-June quarter, while also requesting temporary unemployment compensation for almost all of their employees: “In this situation – declared Mario Maiocchi, head councillor for the Confimprese Consumer Observatory – it is inevitable that tensions are created with both the owners of the properties and the workforce, whose future in the company is uncertain. What is needed are measures aimed at supporting the sector, with a special focus on the theme of rental contracts”.
In this situation of consumer standstill, online sales have quickly risen and even tripled their sales. It is most likely that during the phase of normalisation this method of purchasing, which consumers have become used to, will continue to play a prominent role.