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UK Retail Sector Sales Report October - Grow'

Retail sales volumes are estimated to have risen by 0.6% in October 2022 following a fall of 1.5% in September (revised from a fall of 1.4%) which was affected by the additional bank holiday for the State Funeral.

Figure 1 shows the quantity bought in retail sales over time for both the rolling three-month on three-month, and the month-on-month, movement. While both series show similar trends, the monthly path shows more volatility than the smoother three-month on three-month series.

In the three months to October 2022, sales volumes fell by 2.4% when compared with the previous three months. This is the lowest three-month on three-month growth rate since March 2021, when restrictions were in place.

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

Retail sales volumes rose by 0.6% in October, following a fall of 1.5% in September 2022 (revised from a fall of 1.4%). Retail sales values, unadjusted for price changes, rose by 1.8% in October 2022, following a fall of 1.4% in September 2022. When compared with the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level in February 2020, total retail sales were 14.2% higher in value terms, but volumes were 0.6% lower.

Compared with the same period a year earlier, retail sales volumes fell by 6.1% in the three months to October 2022, while sales values rose by 4.7%.

The reporting period for this bulletin covers 2 to 29 October 2022.

It is important to note that many retailers closed on the additional bank holiday for the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 19 September 2022. Therefore, there was one less trading day than usual for these retailers in the September reporting period which covered 28 August to 1 October 2022. This should be considered when interpreting the seasonally adjusted movements between September and October 2022.

Figure 2 shows the contributions to the 0.6% month-on-month increase in overall retail sales volumes (quantity bought) in October 2022. This highlights that the fall in food stores sales volume was offset by positive growth in the other main sectors.

Food store sales volumes fell by 1.0% in October 2022 and were 4.1% below their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) February 2020 levels.

Food sales volumes have followed a downward trend since summer 2021 following the lifting of restrictions on hospitality.

In recent months, supermarkets have highlighted that they are seeing a decline in volumes sold because of increased cost of living and food prices.

Non-food stores sales volumes rose by 1.1% over the month. Despite this monthly increase they were 1.7% below their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.

The sub-sector of other non-food stores reported a monthly rise in sales volumes of 3.6% because of strong growth in second-hand goods stores (particularly auctioning houses).

Clothing stores sales volumes rose by 2.5% in October 2022, 3.7% below their February 2020 levels.

Department stores sales volumes fell by 0.3% over the month of October 2022.

Household goods stores (such as furniture stores) sales volumes fell by 4.0% in October 2022, 11.8% below their February 2020 levels.

Non-store retailing sales volumes rose by 1.8% in October 2022, following a fall of 2.5% in September 2022. However, since early 2021, sales volumes had a broad downward trend as the wider economy reopened and people could return to shopping in stores.

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.

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, 7.6 pence in every pound spent online was spent in department stores in 2021.

Online spending values fell by 0.7% in October 2022, because of strong falls across non-food sub-sectors.

The value of online spending fell while retail sales as a whole rose, so the proportion of online sales fell slightly to 26.1% from 26.5% in September 2022. The proportion of retail sales online has remained broadly consistent at around 26% since May 2022. Source ONS

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