French retail sales plunged 24% in March: central bank

FILE PHOTO: A woman carrying shopping bags passes by a discount sale sign on the Champs Elysees on the first day of winter sales in Paris, France, January 8, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French retail sales sank 24% in March from February as a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic left many shops shuttered, data from the central bank showed on Wednesday.

Sales of industrial goods were down over 43% while food sales fell only 0.9%, the Bank of France said.

The March freefall meant that retail sales fell 7.2% in the first quarter from the previous free months, with small retail outlets seeing a plunge of 9.6% and large general retailers seeing an increase 1.7%.

More specifically, supermarket sales grew by 7.4% in the quarter and hypermarkets saw an increase of 1.7%, offsetting a 19.3% drop in department store sales, the central bank said.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Kim Coghill