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ONS Retail Sales March 2024

  • Retail sales (value, non-seasonally adjusted, exc. fuel) rose by 4.6% year-on-year (YoY) in March according to the latest ONS data, compared to a 5.1% rise a year earlier.
  • In volume terms (non-seasonally adjusted, exc. fuel), retail sales rose by 1.7% YoY in March following a dip in February. It compares to a weak 4.3% decline in March 2023. 
  • Volumes in February 2024 were just 1.5% higher than March 2019 levels.
  • It should be noted that ONS figures are based on a sample of some 5,000 retailers and are subject to revisions.

Easing inflation closes gap between retail sales volumes and values

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 6.4% YoY in March. This compares to an 11.1% rise a year earlier, impacted by high inflation. Adjusting for inflation, volumes edged up by 1.7% in March against a 2.8% decline in the previous year.
  • Non-food sales values grew by 3.8% in the month compared to flat sales in the previous year. In volume terms, non-food sales returned to growth following three months of decline, with volumes up 2.5% in March.
  • Clothing sales values edged up by 1.1% in March, but volumes remained in decline at -2.6% in the period. Footwear and Leather Goods suffered a deep 8.5% volume decline in March.
  • Sales volumes of Household Goods edged up 0.2% YoY, following consecutive declines for over two and a half years. However, big ticket Furniture and Lighting declines deepened to -6.6%.


  • Online sales values rose by 1.7% YoY in March, against a 4.3% rise a year earlier.
  • Household Goods continued to drag on growth, declining by a 10.8% following a strong 11.8% rise last year, while Clothing & Footwear faced a 1.4% decrease.
  • Non-store retailing (a proxy for pureplay retailers) rose by 3.3% YoY in the month, against a 5.1% increase a year earlier.
  • The proportion of retail sales made online was 25.4% in March, down on 26.1% a year earlier. 
  • Overall, average weekly online sales were £2.22bn in March, up from £2.18bn in the previous year.

Retail sales price deflator

  • The retail sales deflator (a measure of inflation specific to retail) rose by 2.8% YoY in March when excluding fuel – the weakest rate since September 2021 – and rose by 2.2% when including fuel.
  • The implied price deflator among food stores remained elevated at 4.6% YoY in March, but continues to ease from a peak of 14.6% in April. Among non-food stores, the price deflator eased to its softest level since April 2021 at 1.3% in March.

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