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ONS Retail Sales January 2024

  • Retail sales (value, non-seasonally adjusted, exc. fuel) rose by just 2.2% year-on-year (YoY) in December according to the latest ONS data, compared to a 5.8% rise in November 2023 and 4.4% uplift in December 2022.
  • In volume terms (non-seasonally adjusted, exc. fuel), retail sales slipped back into decline at -2.8% YoY in December following November’s 0.7% rise. It compares to a 4.6% decline in December 2022.
  • The soft backdrop for retail sales has seen the three-month-on-three-month volume rate decline by 0.8% in the quarter to December (volume, seasonally adjusted).
  • It should be noted that ONS figures are based on a sample of some 5,000 retailers and are subject to revisions. Retail sales value and volume growth has detached – percentage change on a year earlier.

Retail sales value and volume growth remains detached

Source: ONS, Retail Economics analysis

Note: all retail sales figures provided below are non-seasonally adjusted, excluding Fuel, unless stated otherwise.

Food and non-food

  • Food sales values rose by a weak 4.4% YoY in December (versus an 8.1% rise a year earlier). Adjusting for easing inflation, volume declines deepened to -3.1% in December against a 4.4% decline in the previous year.
  • Non-food sales values slipped by -0.7% in the month compared to a 7.0% rise in the previous year. In volume terms, compared to flat sales last year, sales declined by 3.9% in December following a 0.4% uptick in November.
  • Clothing sales values dipped by 0.7% in December, marking the first decline since March 2021. Accounting for inflation, volumes decreased by 6.6% in the month, attributed to earlier Christmas spending in November compared with normal sales patterns.
  • Household Goods faced its weakest performance since March amid hesitancy to spend. Volumes declined by 6.9% in December, including Furniture and Lighting volumes down by 5.6%.


  • Online sales values rose by 4.1% YoY in December, against a 7.4% decline a year earlier.
  • Clothing & Footwear outperformed, growing by 9.0% in December, while Household Goods suffered a 5.6% decrease.
  • Non-store retailing (a proxy for pureplay retailers) rose by 5.4% YoY in the month, against a weak 13.4% decline a year earlier.
  • The proportion of retail sales made online edged up to 27.6% in December, compared to 27.1% a year earlier.
  • Overall, average weekly online sales were £2.96bn in December, up from £2.84bn a year earlier.

Retail sales price deflator

  • The retail sales deflator (a measure of inflation specific to retail) rose by 5.2% YoY in December when excluding fuel and rose by 3.9% when including fuel.
  • The implied price deflator among food stores was 7.8% YoY in December but continues to soften from a peak of 14.6% in April. Among non-food stores, the price deflator is softening and rose by 3.3% in the month.

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