British retailers suffered their worst April for sales since 2020, when the country was in its first COVID-19 lockdown, although the timing of the Easter holidays could be to blame, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) monthly retail sales gauge, which measures volumes versus a year ago, fell to -44 from +2 in March.

Orders placed with suppliers also dried up.

“April’s sharp fall in retail sales was likely related to the earlier timing of Easter this year, so we should take it with a pinch of salt,” Alpesh Paleja, CBI lead economist, said.

“That being said, conditions do remain challenging on the ground. April’s fall in sales was faster than expected and retailers aren’t overly hopeful about the month ahead.”