Retail sales, Great Britain: January 2024

Retail sales rebound in January following record falls in December, according to a first estimate.

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Dyddiad y datganiad:
16 February 2024

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
22 March 2024

1. Overview

Retail sales volumes (quantity bought) are estimated to have rebounded by 3.4% in January 2024, following a record fall of 3.3% in December 2023 (revised from a fall of 3.2%). This was the largest monthly rise since April 2021 and returned volumes to November 2023 levels.

Sales volumes in all subsectors except clothing stores increased over the month, with food stores such as supermarkets contributing most to the increase.

More broadly, sales volumes fell by 0.2% in the three months to January when compared with the previous three months, however this was the smallest fall since August 2023.

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2. Retail sales in January

Consumers spent more for less in January 2024, as the 3.9% monthly rise in sales values (the amount spent) exceeded the 3.4% rise in sales volumes.

The rise in January 2024 returned sales volumes to November 2023 levels following December's record fall, which was the largest monthly fall since January 2021, when coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions affected sales.

Looking over a longer period, sales volumes rose 0.7% between January 2024 and January 2023 but were still 1.3% below their pre-coronavirus pandemic level in February 2020. These data are available in our Retail Sales Index datasets.

The reporting period for this bulletin covers 31 December 2023 to 27 January 2024.

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3. Retail sectors

Food stores sales volumes rose by 3.4% over the month (0.6% over the year), recovering from December's record fall of 3.1%. Within food stores, the fall in December 2023 and recovery in January 2024 was mainly because of supermarkets.

Non-food stores sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) returned to broadly expected levels, with a rise of 3.0% over the month following a 3.9% fall in December.

Some of the fall in December was because of consumers purchasing Christmas gifts earlier, during the November Black Friday discounts. But 46% of surveyed adults still reported plans to spend less on Christmas shopping because of the rising cost of living, as reported in our Public opinion and social trends bulletin.

Sales volumes in department stores and other non-food stores (such as sports equipment stores) rose over the month by 5.4% and 6.2%, respectively, with some retailers reporting the positive impact of January sales. Household goods stores rose by 1.8% in January 2024, which was mainly because of sales in hardware stores, while clothing stores fell by 1.4%.

Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 5.4% over the month (0.5% over the year), with falling fuel prices possibly meaning people bought more. For more information, see GOV.UK's Weekly road fuel prices tables.

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4. Online retail

The amount spent online, known as online spending values, fell by 4.1% over the month to January 2024 but grew by 1.0% over the year (likely because of inflation).

The proportion of sales made online fell from 26.8% in December 2023 to 24.8% in January 2024.

We have updated our sample this month which is a usual process to ensure our sample remains relevant. This update may have affected the proportion of sales made online, which is more sensitive to sample changes than other parts of retail sales and which may therefore be subject to more revision than usual.

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5. Retail sales data

Retail Sales Index
Dataset | Released 16 February 2024
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 16 February 2024
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 16 February 2024
Internet sales in Great Britain by store type, month and year.

Retail Sales Index categories and their percentage weights
Dataset | Released 24 March 2023
Retail sales categories and descriptions and their percentage of all retailing in Great Britain.

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6. Measuring the data

For January 2024, the response rates were 57.3% based on returned forms, and this accounted for 89.8% of total turnover coverage of the sample population. For historical response information, see our Retail sales quality tables.

Information on how the data were calculated, including strengths and limitations, is available in our Retail Sales Index Quality and Methodology Information (QMI), which also includes a glossary of relevant terms.

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7. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 16 February 2024, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Retail sales, Great Britain: January 2024

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Rhys Lewis
Ffôn: +44 1633 455602