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ONS Retail Sales July 2021

  • Retail sales (value, non-seasonally adjusted, exc. fuel) rose by 3.7% year-on-year (YoY) in July, against a 2.9% uplift a year earlier, according to the latest ONS data. 
  • Compared to the previous month, retail sales volumes (seasonally adjusted, exc. fuel) fell 2.4% in July - the worst performance since January when the UK returned to lockdown. Mixed weather and large numbers of people being forced to self-isolate amidst the fast-spreading Delta variant, dragged on sales.
  • Whilst some of the momentum from reopening has been lost, retail sales continue to recover on the whole. This is shown by the three-month-on-three-month growth rate, which was up by 5.7% in the quarter to July (value, seasonally adjusted).

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

Source: ONS


  • Compared to the same period a year earlier, Food store sales rose by 1.2% YoY in July (volume, seasonally adjusted), a solid but somewhat unimpressive performance. 
  • Food store sales volumes fell by 1.5% against the previous month, when food sales were positively boosted by the Euro 2020 football championship. 
  • Spending in supermarkets was also impacted by consumers heading to pubs and dining out more frequently after the lifting of almost all Covid restrictions on ‘Freedom Day’ on 19 July.


  • Non-food store sales volumes were up 5.9% YoY, a reflection of continued pent-up demand for certain retail sectors, notably clothing and footwear (+16.9%) as social gatherings make a comeback. 
  • However, on a month-on-month basis, non-food stores saw a 4.4% drop in sales volumes in July, driven by strong decline in other stores (-10.1%), such as those selling computers and telecoms.


  • After hitting a pandemic low in June, online penetration unexpectedly ticked higher in July. The proportion of retail sales made online rose to 26.4%, up from 26.2% in June. This remains substantially higher than pre-Covid levels (19.1% in Feb 2020)
  • Online sales (non-seasonally adjusted, exc. fuel) declined by only 3.1% YoY in July, despite extremely strong comparisons from a year earlier when online sales surged 55.6%.

Retail sales price deflator

  • The retail sales deflator (a measure of inflation specific to retail) excluding fuel increased by 1.6% compared to last year, and rose 2.8% when including fuel. 
  • The implied price deflator among food stores edged up by 0.4% YoY, and rose by 2.4% among non-food stores, a slight easing on June.

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