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UK Retail Sector Sales Report September - Grow'

Retail sales volumes and values both fell by 1.4% in September, following a fall of 1.7% in August 2022 (sales volumes were revised from a fall of 1.6%).

When compared with the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level in February 2020, total retail sales were 12.0% higher in value terms but volumes were 1.3% lower.

Compared with the same period a year earlier, retail sales volumes fell by 5.4% in the three months to September 2022, while sales values rose by 5.5%.

The reporting period for this bulletin covers 28 August to 1 October 2022 and includes the bank holiday on 29 August 2022 and the bank holiday for the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 19 September 2022.

As many retailers closed on 19 September 2022, there was one less trading day than usual during the reporting period for these retailers. As a one-off event, this impact does not get removed from our seasonally adjusted estimates. This should be considered when interpreting the seasonally adjusted movements involving September 2022.

Figure 1 shows the quantity bought (volume) and amount spent (value) in retail sales over time. Sales volumes fell by 1.4% in September 2022, continuing a broad downward trend since the lifting of hospitality restrictions in the summer of 2021. Total retail sales volumes were at their lowest level since February 2021 and were 1.3% below their pre-coronavirus level in February 2020.

Figure 2 shows the contributions to the 1.4% month-on-month fall in overall retail sales volumes (quantity bought) in September 2022.

All the main sectors (food stores, non-food stores, non-store retailing and fuel) fell over the month.

Food store sales volumes fell by 1.8% in September 2022 and were 3.2% 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 food prices and cost of living impacts.

Non-store retailing sales volumes fell by 3.0% in September 2022, following a fall of 3.9% in August 2022. These sales volumes had a broad downward trend as the wider economy reopened and people could return to shopping in stores. Despite this fall, sales volumes are 18.0% above their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.

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.

Non-food stores sales volumes fell by 0.6% over the month and were 2.7% below their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.

Household goods stores (such as furniture stores) sales volumes fell by 1.5% in September 2022 because of falls in each of its sub-industries. Continuing feedback from retailers suggests that consumers are cutting back on spending because of increased prices and affordability concerns.

Other non-food stores, such as jewellery stores, reported a monthly fall in sales volumes of 0.7% in September 2022, while department stores fell by 0.6%.

Clothing stores sales volumes rose by 0.1% in September 2022 mainly because of growth in footwear stores.

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 rose by 1.2% in September 2022, because of growth in all sectors apart from household goods stores.

The value of online spending rose while retail sales as a whole fell, so the proportion of online sales increased slightly to 26.4% from 26.0% in August 2022. The proportion of retail sales online has remained broadly consistent at around 26% since May 2022.

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