Updated: Mar 25
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.
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).
Retail sales in January
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.
Retail sales volumes picked up in January 2022 -
following a sharp fall in December 2021
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.
Month-on-month contribution to growth by sector
Retail sales in January 2022 were boosted by higher sales in non-food stores and non-store retailing
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.
Retail sales, selected sectors
Food store sales volumes fell below pre-coronavirus levels for the first time
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.
Home improvement sales picked up with a rise in household goods
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.
Summary of internet statistics, January 2022
The above 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.