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ONS Retail Sales February 2020

As shoppers battled extreme rainfall in February, retail sales (value, non-seasonally adjusted, excluding fuel) rose by 2.3% year-on-year in the month, following a 3.8% uplift in January according to the latest figures from the ONS.

ONS’s data for February was largely unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak, although a small number of retailers had been impacted by disruption in China when trying to ship online orders from the region.

In volume terms, retail sales rose by 0.5% in February compared to last year (seasonally adjusted, excluding fuel). On a month-on-month basis, volumes declined by 0.5%.

A reflection of recent underlying trends is shown by the three-month on three-month growth, which reported a 0.6% dip in sales volumes to February.

The retail sales deflator (a measure of inflation specific to retail) increased by 0.5% including fuel (0.2% excluding fuel) in the year to February.

The soft rise demonstrates the ongoing pressure that prices are under from rife competition and discounting. Non-Food stores slipped back into deflation, down by 0.3% year-on-year in February, while inflation among Food stores rose by 1.0% – the softest increase since May 2019.

Online sales (non-seasonally adjusted, excluding automotive fuel) reportedly increased by a relatively subdued 5.3% year-on-year. Online sales accounted for just under a fifth of retail sales at approximately 18.8% of all retail spending – the highest February on record, but below the 21.6% peak in November 2018.

Retail sales (volume, seasonally adjusted) – 3-months on previous 3-months

Source: ONS

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