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ONS Retail Sales March 2023

  • Retail sales (value, non-seasonally adjusted, exc. fuel) rose by 6.9% year-on-year (YoY) in March according to the latest ONS data.
  • In volume terms (non-seasonally adjusted, exc. fuel), retail sales declined by 2.6% YoY in March, against a weak 1.9% decline a year earlier, continuing consecutive volumes declines since March 2022.
  • The three-month-on-three-month volume rate edged up 0.7% in the quarter to March (volume, seasonally adjusted), marking the first three-month on three-month rise since August 2021.

Retail sales value and volume growth has 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 surged 11.3% YoY in March (versus a 5.6% decline a year earlier) as grocery prices continued to step up on last year. Volumes continued to decrease at 2.5% YoY in March, against a dismal 11.3% decline in the previous year, amid shortages of popular fresh produce.
  • Clothing sales surged 9.1% YoY in March, against an exceptional 78.8% rise a year earlier. Volumes edged up just 0.8% in the month, with the quantity of clothing sold below 2019 levels for the month.
  • Footwear & Leather Goods sales values rose by 31.1% YoY and volumes stepped up 23.8% with formal and dress shoes outperforming, driven by a return of events and weddings.
  • Home categories remain under pressure with volumes below 2019 levels. Furniture and Lighting saw sales volumes edge down 2.7% YoY in March, while Household Goods volumes declined 7.6%.


  • Online sales values rose for the first time since the end of 2021, with ecommerce sales up 3.4% YoY in March, albeit against a weak 19.2% decline a year earlier.
  • Clothing & Footwear drove the sales uplift, with online sales up by 11.1% YoY in the category, while Household Goods and Food remained in decline
  • Non-store retailing (a proxy for pureplay retailers) sales increased 8.7% YoY in March, against a 13.9% decline a year earlier.
  • The proportion of retail sales made online remained broadly unchanged at 25.5% - down from 26.3% a year earlier.

Retail sales price deflator

  • The retail sales deflator (a measure of inflation specific to retail) remained close to double-digit rates, stepping up by 9.7% YoY in March when excluding fuel, and 8.1% when including fuel.
  • The implied price deflator among food stores surged at another record high of 14.2% YoY in March. Among non-food stores, the price deflator rose by 6.5% in the month.

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