Retail sales, Great Britain: January 2022

A first estimate of retail sales in volume and value terms, seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted.

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Cyswllt:
Email Rhys Lewis

Dyddiad y datganiad:
18 February 2022

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
25 March 2022

1. Main points

  • Retail sales volumes rose by 1.9% in January 2022 following a fall of 4.0% in December 2021 (revised down from a fall of 3.7%); sales volumes were 3.6% above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) February 2020 levels.

  • Non-food stores sales volumes rose by 3.4% in January 2022 as home improvement sales volumes picked up with increased sales in household goods and garden centres; non-food sales volumes were 1.1% below their February 2020 levels.

  • Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 4.1% in January 2022 following a fall of 5.0% in December when increased home working and lower retail footfall reduced travel; sales volumes in January 2022 were 3.3% below their February 2020 levels.

  • Food store sales volumes in January 2022 fell below pre-coronavirus levels for the first time and were 0.8% below where they were in February 2020.

  • The proportion of retail sales online fell to 25.3% in January 2022, its lowest proportion since March 2020 (22.7%), continuing a broad downward trend since its peak in February 2021 (36.5%); despite its downward trend, the percentage of retail sales made online was still higher than before the coronavirus pandemic (19.8% in February 2020).

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2. Retail sales in January

Table 1 provides a snapshot of the retail sales industry in January 2022 with both value and volume growth rates.

Retail sales volumes rose by 1.9% in January 2022, following a fall of 4.0% in December (revised down from a fall of 3.7%). Retail sales values, unadjusted for price changes, rose by 2.0% in January 2022, following a fall of 3.4% in December (revised down from a fall of 3.1%). When compared with February 2020's pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level, total retail sales were 3.6% and 9.1% higher in volume and value terms respectively.

Compared with the same period a year earlier, sales volumes over the last three months rose by 3.1% while sales values rose by 9.9% reflecting an annual implied deflator (or implied growth in prices) of 6.8%. Percentage change over the past year should be interpreted with caution given the impact of coronavirus restrictions and base effects on growth rates. In January 2021 there were restrictions on non-essential retail in England, Scotland and Wales.

The reporting period for the January publication covers 2 January to 29 January 2022.

Retail sales volumes rose by 1.9% in January 2022, the largest monthly increase since April 2021 (9.0%) when non-essential retailing reopened. The monthly increase in January 2022 followed a fall of 4.0% in December 2021 when earlier Christmas trading than normal in October and November, and reduced retail footfall in December, linked to concerns around the Omicron variant of coronavirus, affected sales.

Non-food stores sales volumes rose by 3.4% with strong growth in household goods stores (7.5%) such as furniture stores and electrical goods stores and department stores (7.1%).

Non-store retailing sales volumes (which are those stores that do not have a permanent “bricks and mortar” presence and mainly, but not exclusively, consist of online-only sellers) increased by 8.0% over the month. To note, all other sectors are retailers that have a physical presence and may also trade online. Sales volumes were 41.6% above their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.

Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 4.1% in January 2021 following a fall of 5.0% in December, when England’s move to Plan B coronavirus restriction measures contributed to fewer journeys by car. In January 2022 fuel sales volume were 3.3% below their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.

Food sales volumes fell by 2.3% over the month and were below pre-coronavirus levels for the first time. Sales volumes held up during the first year of the pandemic but have broadly fallen over the period since June 2021 as consumers diverted spending to services. Sales volumes in January 2021 were 0.8% below their February 2020 levels.

More about economy, business and jobs

Month-on-month contribution to growth by sector

Figure 2 shows the contributions to the 1.9% month-on-month increase in overall retail sales volumes (quantity bought) in January 2022. This highlights that non-food stores and non-store retailing had the largest contributions to the increase over the month.

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3. Retail sales, selected sectors

Food stores

Food store sales volumes fell by 2.3% over the month to January 2022 and were 0.8% below their February 2020 levels. Sales volumes have broadly fallen since June 2021 as consumers diverted spending to services as the wider economy reopened. The Bank of England’s Agents’ summary of business conditions for 2021 Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) noted that demand for dining out had continued to strengthen and some contacts in the casual dining sector said demand was supported by home deliveries, which were in some cases more than 25% above pre-coronavirus levels.

Non-food stores

Non-food stores as a whole saw monthly sales volumes rise by 3.4% in January 2022 but were still 1.1% below their pre-coronavirus levels of February 2020.

Household goods stores sales volumes rose by 7.5% in January 2022 because of strong growth in furniture and lighting stores (16.6%) and electrical goods stores (16.0%). Sales volumes were 3.8% above their February 2020 levels.

Department stores reported a monthly increase of 7.1% in sales volumes but remained 8.0% below their February 2020 levels.

The sub-sector of other non-food stores reported a monthly increase in sales volumes of 5.8% in January 2022 because of strong growth in garden centres. Other non-food stores sales volumes were 10.6% above their February 2020 levels.

Clothing stores reported a fall of 5.0% over the month and were 12.6% below levels in February 2020. This may be linked to less discounting in January 2022 compared with other years as reported in the consumer price inflation release.

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4. Online retail

Table 2 shows the month-on-month and month-on-year (annual) growth rates for the amount spent online by value and the proportion of total retail sales value that was made online by sector. The percentage weights indicate where money is spent online. For example, 7.6 pence in every pound spent online was spent in department stores in 2021.

Online spending values fell in January 2022 by 4.5% when compared with December 2021 because of sharp monthly falls in food, clothing and other non-food stores. Not all retail categories saw a fall in online sales though; department stores and non-store retailing both saw a small percentage increase.

The proportion of online sales fell to 25.3% from 27.0% in December 2021. This is a continuation of a broad falling trend since its peak in February 2021 (36.5%). Despite the ongoing trend, the proportion of sales made online is still above its level of 19.8% in February 2020 before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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5. Retail sales data

Retail sales index
Dataset | Released 18 February 2022
A series of retail sales data for Great Britain in value and volume terms, seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted.

Retail sales pounds data
Dataset | Released 18 February 2022
Total sales and average weekly spending estimates for each retail sector in Great Britain, in the thousands (British pounds).

Retail Sales Index internet sales
Dataset | Released 18 February 2022
Internet sales in Great Britain by store type, month and year.

Retail Sales Index categories and their percentage weights
Dataset | Released 18 February 2022
Retail sales categories and descriptions and their percentage of all retailing in Great Britain.

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6. Glossary

Value (amount spent)

The value estimates reflect the total turnover that businesses have collected over a standard period.

Volume (quantity bought)

The volume estimates are calculated by taking the value estimates and adjusting to remove the impact of price changes.

Seasonally adjusted

Seasonally adjusted estimates are derived by estimating and removing calendar effects (for example, Easter moving between March and June) and seasonal effects (for example, increased spending in January because of Christmas) from the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) estimates.

Non-seasonally adjusted

Non-seasonally adjusted estimates refer to raw data where the effects of regular or seasonal patterns have not been removed.

Non-store retailing

Non-store retailing refers to retailers that do not have a store presence. While the majority is made up of online retailers, it also includes other retailers such as stalls and markets.

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7. Measuring the data

Quality

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Retail Sales Quality and Methodology Information (QMI).

Revisions

Revisions in this release are a result of:

  • late responses to survey returns replacing imputations, or revisions to original returns

  • revisions to seasonal-adjustment factors, which are re-estimated and reviewed every month

For further information on the revisions profile, please see the retail sales revisions triangles published on a one-month and three-month growth basis.

Seasonal adjustment

All seasonal-adjustment parameters for our volume and value data, for all businesses and internet-data time series, up to January 2022 have been reviewed. Many series are affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)-related actions in January 2022 and previous months. Each series has been reviewed and the best adjustment for coronavirus-related effects applied. These may need to be revised further as additional data become available.

Making our published spreadsheets accessible

In line with Government Statistical Service (GSS) guidance on releasing statistics in spreadsheets, we have updated the pounds data reference tables.

If you have any questions or comments, please email retail.sales.enquiries@ons.gov.uk.

Use of Value Added Tax data in retails sales statistics

We have previously outlined plans to incorporate Value Added Tax (VAT) data to measure monthly retail sales alongside a rationalised Monthly Business Survey (MBS) as part of our transformation of short-term turnover statistics. Transformation of data collection systems has progressed to the stage where, in the next few months, we expect to transfer production of the statistics to our new Statistical Production Platform (SPP). This will be a positive step forward to ensure that our systems are kept efficient.

However, at that stage we will not be including VAT data in place of survey data in the production of retail sales statistics. This is because methodological work has confirmed that timeliness of that data, especially during times of shock such as the one seen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, could result in poorer initial estimates and larger subsequent revisions. Work will continue to assess the potential for future incorporation of VAT data in retail sales and our other short-term statistics.

Compliance check on Retail Sales statistics

On 11 February 2022 the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) published a letter of their findings that confirmed the continued designation of Retail Sales statistics as National Statistics. In its findings the OSR recommended that we publish a further update on our ongoing developments, future priorities for Retail Sales statistics and our plans for user engagement. We will provide further detail on these areas before the end of June 2022.   

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8. Strengths and limitations

Uses and users

The Retail Sales Index (RSI) is an important economic indicator and one of the earliest short-term measures of economic activity. It is used in the compilation of the national accounts and widely used by private and public sector institutions, particularly by the Bank of England and HM Treasury, to assist in informed decision and policy making.

The latest comparisons of month on same month a year ago should be treated with caution given the impact of base effects on growth rates because of the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic throughout 2020. Such comparisons and growth rates can nonetheless be found in our accompanying dataset.

Comparability with international data

The most recent international estimate of retail sales available for January 2022 was published by the United States Census Bureau on 16 February 2022. In their Advanced monthly sales for retail and food services, January 2022 (PDF, 354KB), they include the amount spent in the United States retail industry, including motor vehicles and parts, and food services.

Data for Northern Ireland are published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

It should be noted that accurate comparisons cannot be made against these or other international statistics for a variety of reasons, including differences in methodology.

Eurostat also published their latest estimates of the Volume of retail trade across the EU on 4 February 2022 for December 2021. This shows the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade in both the euro area (EA19) and EU27 when compared with November 2021.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Rhys Lewis
retail.sales.enquiries@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 1633 455602