Retail sales, Great Britain: July 2023

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

Nid hwn yw'r datganiad diweddaraf. Gweld y datganiad diweddaraf

Email Rhys Lewis

Dyddiad y datganiad:
18 August 2023

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
22 September 2022

1. Main points

  • Retail sales volumes are estimated to have fallen by 1.2% in July 2023 following a rise of 0.6% in June 2023 (revised from an increase of 0.7%).

  • Food stores sales volumes fell by 2.6% in July 2023, with supermarkets reporting that the wet weather reduced clothing sales, although food sales also fell back; retailers indicated that the increased cost of living and food prices continued to affect sales volumes.

  • Non-food stores sales volumes fell by 1.7% in July 2023, following a rise of 0.6% in June 2023; retailers reported that the fall over the month was because of poor weather reducing footfall.

  • Automotive fuel stores sales volumes rose by 0.7% in July 2023, following a fall of 0.6% in June 2023.

  • Non-store retailing sales volumes rose by 2.8% in July 2023; online retailers suggested that a range of promotions boosted sales.

  • Shoppers switching to online shopping because of poor weather and increased promotions led to 27.4% of retail sales taking place online in July 2023, up from 26.0% in June 2023; this is the highest proportion since February 2022 (28.0%).

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2. Retail sales in July

Table 1 provides a snapshot of the retail sales industry in July 2023, with both volume and value growth rates.

The reporting period for this bulletin covers 2 July to 29 July 2023.

Figure 1 shows the continued divergence between the quantity bought (volume) and amount spent (value) in retail sales over time because of price increases.

When compared with their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level in February 2020, total retail sales were 16.4% higher in value terms, but volumes were 1.8% lower.

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Month-on-month contribution to growth by sector

Figure 2 shows the contributions to the 1.2% month-on-month fall in overall retail sales volumes (quantity bought) in July 2023. This highlights that the fall over the month was because of falls in food and non-food stores.

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3. Retail sales, selected sectors

Food stores

Food stores sales volumes fell by 2.6% in July 2023, following a rise of 1.1% in June 2023. Supermarkets reported that some of the fall was because of the poor weather reducing summer clothing sales. However, food sales in supermarkets also fell back.

Retailers also indicated that the increased cost of living and food prices continued to affect sales volumes. Our Consumer price inflation, July 2023 bulletin reported that the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 14.9% in the 12 months to July 2023.

Food store sales volumes were 5.1% below their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) February 2020 levels.

Non-food stores

Total non-food stores sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) fell by 1.7% in July 2023, following a rise of 0.6% in June 2023.

Feedback from retailers suggests that reduced footfall because of the poor weather in July 2023 affected sales volumes. The Met Office's monthly climate summary (PDF, 4.8MB) reported that the UK had 170.0% of the average rainfall for the month, making this provisionally the wettest July since 2009 and the sixth wettest July on record since 1836.

Within non-food stores, household goods stores reported a monthly fall in sales volumes of 3.8% because of a fall in furniture and lighting stores.

Department stores sales volumes fell by 2.9% over the month, while clothing stores fell by 2.2%.

The other non-food stores sub-sector rose by 0.7% over the month because of an increase in other retail sales of new goods, such as sales in art galleries and auction houses.

Non-store retailing

Non-store retailing sales volumes, which are predominantly online retailers, rose by 2.8% in July 2023, following a rise of 0.2% in June 2023.

Feedback from online retailers suggested that the wet weather and a range of promotions in July 2023 boosted sales.

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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 show where money is spent online. For example, seven pence in every pound spent online was spent in department stores in 2022.

Online spending values rose by 4.1% in July 2023 because of strong growth in non-store retailing and other non-food stores.

The value of online spending rose, while the value of retail sales as a whole fell. Because of this the proportion of online sales rose to 27.4% in July 2023 from 26.0% in June 2023.

This is the highest proportion of retail sales taking place online since February 2022 (28.0%) and remains significantly above the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels (19.6% in February 2020).

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5. Retail sales data

Retail Sales Index
Dataset | Released 18 August 2023
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 August 2023
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 August 2023
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. 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 effect of price changes.

Seasonally adjusted

Seasonally adjusted estimates are derived by estimating and removing calendar effects (for example, Easter moving between April and May) and seasonal effects (such as increased spending in December 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


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


Revisions in this release are a result of:

  • revisions to seasonal adjustment factors, which have been reviewed and re-estimated

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

Revisions are allowed to occur naturally each month, along the full length of each data time series, following direct seasonal adjustment of the component time series.

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

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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 creation 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 policymaking.

Comparability with international data

The most recent international estimate of retail sales available for July 2023 was published by the United States Census Bureau on 15 August 2023. In their Advanced monthly sales for retail and food services July 2023 report, they included 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). Their Retail Sales Index release for Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2023 was published on 15 June 2023.

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 (PDF, 368KB) across the EU on 4 August 2023 for June 2023. This shows the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade in both the euro area (EA19) and the European Union (EU27), when compared with May 2023.

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10. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 18 August 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Retail sales, Great Britain: July 2023

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Rhys Lewis
Ffôn: +44 1633 455602