Retail sales, Great Britain: June 2021

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:
23 July 2021

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
20 August 2021

1. Main points

  • Retail sales volumes increased by 0.5% between May and June 2021, and were up 9.5% when compared with their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic February 2020 levels.

  • The largest contribution to the monthly increase in June 2021 came from food stores where sales volumes rose by 4.2%, with anecdotal evidence suggesting these increased sales may be linked with the start of the Euro 2020 football championship.

  • Non-food stores reported a fall of 1.7% in sales volumes in June 2021 when compared with May 2021, driven by falls in household goods stores, such as furniture stores and clothing stores.

  • Automotive fuel sales increased by 2.3% over the month, as people continued to increase their amount of travel; however, they remain 2.1% below their pre-coronavirus pandemic February 2020 levels.

  • The volume of sales for the three months to June 2021 was 12.2% higher than in the previous three months, driven in large part by particularly strong sales in April when non-essential retailing re-opened; strong three-month growth was seen in non-food retailers and automotive fuel sales of 35.8% and 23.6% respectively.

  • The proportion of retail sales conducted online remains substantially higher than before the pandemic, but in June most retail sectors reported a fall in their proportions of online sales as consumers returned to physical stores; the total proportion of sales online decreased to 26.7% in June 2021, down from 28.4% in May 2021.

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2. Retail sales in June

The monthly increase between May and June 2021 was driven by food stores, whose sales increased by 4.2% between May and June, with anecdotal evidence suggesting these increased sales may be linked to the start of the Euro 2020 football championship.

Conversely, non-food stores reported a fall of 1.7% in monthly sales volumes, their first fall on the month since January 2021. This was driven by strong falls in household goods stores (negative 10.9%), such as furniture stores, and clothing stores (negative 4.8%).

Automotive fuel sales increased by 2.3% from May 2021, as people continued to increase their amount of travel, but remain 2.1% below their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels in February 2020.

Table 1 provides more details of what happened in the retail sales industry in June 2021 with both value and volume growth rates.

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3. Retail sales by sector

Food stores

Food store sales volumes increased by 4.2% in June 2021, following a decline of 5.5% in the previous month, when consumers had switched some food spending to hospitality as some restrictions in that sector were relaxed. Feedback from some retailers suggested that sales were positively boosted in June by the start of the Euro 2020 football championship.

Non-food stores

Non-food stores as a whole saw monthly sales volumes fall by 1.7% in June 2021, following strong growth in previous months. Trends within different types of non-food stores are plotted in Figure 3.

Household goods stores reported a monthly fall in sales volumes of 10.9% in June 2021, driven by falls in furniture stores and electrical household appliance stores. The Bank of England Agents’ summary of business conditions for Quarter 2 (April to June 2021) notes that transportation delays have resulted in shortages of some items, such as furniture and electrical goods.

Despite this fall, sales volumes for household goods stores are still 14.0% higher than the same period last year and 15.8% above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels in February 2020.

Clothing and department stores also reported monthly declines, of 4.7% and 3.6% respectively.

Other non-food stores (such as chemists, toy stores and sports equipment stores) reported monthly growth of 8.6% driven by strong growth in second-hand goods stores.

Non-store retailing (retailers with no physical store presence)

Non-store retailers reported a monthly decline of 3.7% in June 2021. However, sales remain much higher than their pre-pandemic level, with volumes in June 2021 being 39.9% higher than in February 2020.

Automotive fuel

Automotive fuel sales grew by 2.3% when compared with the previous month, continuing the recovery since March 2021 (growth of 20.0%) as the relaxation of lockdown measures increased people’s travel. However, sales remain 2.1% lower than February 2020, before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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4. Online retail

Table 2 shows the month-on-month and year-on-year 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, 9.1 pence in every pound spent online was spent on department stores in 2020).

Online spending values fell in June 2021 by 4.7% when compared with May 2021, with all sectors except clothing stores reporting monthly falls in their online sales. Feedback from retailers suggested that the easing of retail restrictions had affected online sales as consumers returned to physical stores.

This resulted in a decline in the proportion of online retail spending values, which fell to 26.7% from 28.4% in May 2021. This is the fourth consecutive monthly fall in the proportion of online spending. However, this is higher than the proportion of online retail spending in February 2020 (pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic) of 19.9%.

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5. Retail sales data

Retail Sales Index
Dataset | Released 23 July 2021
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 23 July 2021
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 23 July 2021
Internet sales in Great Britain by store type, month and year.

Retail Sales Index categories and their percentage weights
Dataset | Released 23 July 2021
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 May) and seasonal effects (for example, increased spending in December as a result 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 QMI.

Seasonal adjustment

All seasonal adjustment parameters for our volume and value data, for all businesses and internet data time series, up to June 2021 have been reviewed. Many series are impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19)-related actions in June 2021 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.

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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.

Comparability with international data

The most recent international estimate of retail sales available for June 2021 was published by the United States Census Bureau on 16 July 2021. In its advanced monthly sales for retail and food services, June 2021 (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 European Union on 6 July 2021 for May 2021. This shows the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade in both the euro area (EA19) and EU27 when compared with April 2021.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Rhys Lewis
retail.sales.enquiries@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 (0)1633 455602