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ONS Retail Sales May 2023

  • Retail sales (value, non-seasonally adjusted, exc. fuel) rose by 8.0% year-on-year (YoY) in May according to the latest ONS data.
  • In volume terms (non-seasonally adjusted, exc. fuel), retail sales declined by 1.6% YoY in May, 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 0.5% in the quarter to May (volume, seasonally adjusted).

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 continued to rocket, up by 12.8% YoY in May (versus a 2.9% rise a year earlier). As grocery prices continue to surge in double-digits, volumes remained in decline at -1.1% YoY in May, against a 5.0% decline in the previous year.
  • Clothing sales stepped up 6.2% YoY in May, against a 16.6% rise a year earlier. But volumes dipped 1.7% in the month.
  • Footwear & Leather Goods sales values rose by a staggering 23.0% YoY and volumes stepped up 18.0% with formal and dress shoes outperforming, driven by a return of events and weddings.
  • Home categories remain under pressure, although declines softened in May. Furniture and Lighting saw sales volumes edge down 2.0% YoY in May, while Household Goods volumes declined 5.4% - softened by strong sales in DIY stores.


  • Online sales values rose by 6.3% YoY in May, against a weak 8.3% decline a year earlier.
  • Clothing & Footwear outperformed against other major categories online, with ecommerce sales up by 18.2% YoY, while Household Goods saw sales decline 2.3%.
  • Non-store retailing (a proxy for pureplay retailers) sales increased 8.2% YoY in May, against a 6.9% decline a year earlier.
  • The proportion of retail sales made online remained broadly unchanged at 25.3% - slightly down from 25.7% a year earlier.

Retail sales price deflator

  • The retail sales deflator (a measure of inflation specific to retail) remained high in May, rising by 9.7% YoY when excluding fuel, but eased to 7.2% when including fuel.
  • The implied price deflator among food stores stepped up by 14.1% YoY in May. Among non-food stores, the price deflator rose by 6.7% in the month.

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