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Statistical bulletin: Retail Sales, September 2011 This product is designated as National Statistics

Retail Sales - September 2011

  • Value of retail sales in September 2011 showed an increase of 5.4 per cent compared with September 2010.
  • Sales volumes in September 2011 increased by 0.6 per cent compared to September 2010.
  • Non-store retailing and automotive fuel both saw sales volumes increase compared to September 2010 by 15.5 and 2.8 respectively.
  • Textile, clothing and footwear sales volumes fell 2.1 per cent compared to September 2010, the largest fall since April 2008.
  • Non-seasonally adjusted year-on-year sales volumes in large and small stores increase by 0.2 and 2.1 per cent respectively.

Key Figures

Key figures, September 2011

 
Most recent month on a year earlier Most recent 3 months on a year earlier Most recent month on previous month Most recent 3 months on previous 3 months
Value  5.4 4.7 0.8 0.7
Volume 0.6 -0.1 0.6 -0.2
Value excluding Automotive fuel 3.7 3.1 0.9 0.8
Volume excluding Automotive fuel 0.4 -0.4 0.7 -0.1

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Supplementary Analysis

In September 2011, all retail sales volumes increased by 0.6 per cent and sales values increased by 5.4 per cent compared to September 2010.

Looking at the non-seasonally adjusted year on year all retail sales volume data, small stores, that is, those with employment of less than 100, fared better than large stores:

  • all stores increased by 0.6 per cent,

  • large stores increased by 0.2 per cent,

  • small stores increased by 2.1 per cent. 

Automotive Fuel Stores

Automotive fuel stores are those stores selling predominantly automotive fuel i.e. petrol stations and also includes fuel sales at supermarkets. 

Between September 2010 and September 2011 automotive fuel stores saw:

  • sales values increase by 20 per cent,

  • sales volumes increase by 2.8 per cent.

indicating that consumers were buying more in these stores than they did in September 2010 but spending a significant amount more for these goods.

The reason for the large increase in sales values can be found in the estimated prices of goods sold at these stores, which increased by 17 per cent between September 2011 and September 2010. 

Looking at the CPI, fuel and lubricants increased by 17.8 per cent over the 12 months to September 2011. 

Looking longer term and calculating a five year percentage change for sales values and volumes at automotive fuel stores, we see that consumers bought 10 per cent less from these stores than they did five years ago but the amount that they spent within these stores increased by 32 per cent. 

Automotive fuel store value and volume sales each September by year

Seasonally Adjusted

Chart shows the value and volume index for September in the years 2005 to 2011
Source: Monthly Business Survey - Retail Sales Inquiry - Office for National Statistics

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Retail Sales in detail

The Retail Sales Index (RSI) measures spending (value) and volume of retail sales in Great Britain. Figures are adjusted for seasonal variations unless otherwise stated and the reference year for both value and volume statistics is 2008 = 100. For an explanation of the terms used in this bulletin, please see the background notes section. Care should be taken when using the month on month growth rates due to their volatility, an assessment of the quality of the retail statistics is available in the background notes.

Year on year growth rates and contribution to all retailing by sector

Per cent
    % of all retailing Volume (SA) Year on year growth (%) Contribution to all retailing (% points) Value   (SA)    Year on year growth (%) Contribution to all retailing (% points)
All retailing  100.0 0.6 5.4
           
Predominantly food stores 41.7 -0.3 -0.1 5.7 2.4
           
Predominantly non-food stores          
Total 43.2 -0.7 -0.3 0.4 0.2
Non-specialised stores 7.8 4.0 0.3 4.4 0.3
Textile, clothing and footwear stores 12.2 -2.1 -0.3 0.4 0.0
Household goods stores 9.7 -1.6 -0.2 -2.0 -0.2
Other stores 13.5 -1.6 -0.2 -0.1 0.0
           
Non-store retailing 4.9 15.5 0.8 15.6 0.8
           
Automotive fuel 10.2 2.8 0.3 20.0 2.0

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Sector analysis

Predominantly food store volume sales in September 2011 decreased by 0.3 per cent compared to September 2010 with sales values increasing by 5.7 over the same period. The reason for the increase in sales values came from an increase in the prices of goods sold at these stores which are estimated to have risen by 6.0 per cent. 

Non-seasonally adjusted data shows that sales values in predominantly food stores increased by 5.7 per cent with small food retailers out performing their larger counterparts, increasing by 13.6 per cent with large retailers increasing by 4.4 per cent.

In September 2011 non-seasonally adjusted data also shows that non-specialised food stores, supermarkets and corner shops, sales volumes decreased by 0.5 per cent compared to September 2010 with small stores out performing large stores, increasing by 9.1 per cent with large stores decreasing by 1.4 per cent. Specialist food stores sales volumes decreased by 3.2 per cent and sales volumes at stores selling alcohol and tobacco increased by 16.9 per cent. 

In September 2011 an estimated £13.4 billion was spent in this sector the equivalent of 42 pence per pound spent in retail. 

Predominantly non-food stores volume sales in September 2011 decreased by 0.7 per cent compared to September 2010 with the largest decrease in this sector coming from textile, clothing and footwear stores falling by 2.1 per cent. This sector also saw sales volumes decrease by 1.6 per cent in both household goods stores and other stores. Non-specialised stores were the only sub-sector to experience sales volumes increase rising by 4.0 per cent.

Over the same period, sales values increased by 0.4 per cent with non-specialised stores providing the largest increase in this sector increasing by 4.4 per cent. Textile, clothing and footwear stores increased by 0.4 per cent but there were decreases in sales values for household goods stores, falling by 2.0 per cent and for other stores, falling by 0.1 per cent. 

The prices of goods sold in predominantly non-food stores are estimated to have risen by 1.2 per cent.  An estimated £13 billion was spent in this sector in September 2011. 

Non-specialised stores volume sales in September 2011 increased by 4.0 per cent compared to September 2010, the largest growth since January 2011 where sales volumes increased as a result of consumers rushing to beat the VAT rise. Sales values within this sector increased by 4.4 per cent over the same period. Feedback provided by retailers in this sector suggests that these increases are a result of promotions and sales. 

The prices of goods sold within these stores are estimated to have increased by 0.3 per cent and an estimated £2.4 billion was spent within this sector in September 2011

Textile, clothing and footwear sales volumes fell more in September 2011 than in any other retail sector, decreasing by 2.1 per cent compared to September 2010, the largest fall since April 2008. Sales values increased by 0.4 per cent over the same period. 

In September 2011 all three types of stores within this sector, textile stores, clothing stores and footwear stores, saw non-seasonally adjusted sales volumes decrease, by 25.1 per cent, 1.9 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively.

Household goods stores sales volumes in September 2011 decreased by 1.6 per cent compared to September 2010 but it was a mixed performance for these sectors.  Non-seasonally adjusted data shows sale volume decreases in both DIY stores and stores selling music and video recordings and equipment, decreasing by 13.9 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively. Stores selling furniture and lighting saw non-seasonally adjusted sales volumes increase by 4.7 per cent.  Stores selling electrical household appliances saw non-seasonally adjusted sales volumes increase by 5.5 per cent, which feedback suggests is a result of consumers purchasing back to school, college and university computers. 

Year on year sales values in household good stores decreased by 2.0 per cent whilst the prices of goods in these stores are estimated to have fallen by 0.3 per cent (non-seasonally adjusted).  An estimated £2.8 billion was spent in this sector. 

Other Stores sales volumes in September 2011 decreased by 1.6 per cent compared to September 2010 and sales values decreased by 0.1 per cent. The price of goods sold by these stores are estimated to have increased by 1.4 per cent and an estimated £4.0 billion was spent in this sector. 

Non-store retailing sales volumes increased more in September 2011 compared to September 2010 than in another sector, increasing by 15.5 per cent. Sales values within in this sector increased by 15.6 per cent over the same period. 

Non-seasonally adjusted data for this sector shows that small non-store retailers volume sales increased by 21.6 per cent and sales values increased by 22.4 per cent.  Large non-store retailers sales volumes increased by 11.6 per cent and sales values increased by 11.2 per cent.

Predominantly Automotive Fuel stores sales volumes, which includes supermarket petrol stations, increased in September 2011 by 2.8 per cent compared to September 2010 and sales values increased by 20.0 per cent over the same period. The prices of goods sold within these stores are estimated to have risen by 17.0 per cent, the highest year on year increase since May 2010. An estimated £3.9 billion was spent in these stores in September 2011. 

Internet sales

Based on ONS experimental Internet sales series, the non-seasonally adjusted average weekly value of Internet retail sales in September 2011 was £539.4 million which was approximately 9.6 per cent of total retail sales (excluding automotive fuel), compared with September 2010 which was £415.9 million which was approximately 7.7 per cent of total retail sales (excluding automotive fuel).

Distribution analysis

The table illustrates the mix of experiences among different sized retailers. It shows the distribution of the reported growth of businesses in the RSI sample, ranked by size of business (based on number of employment). For example, this shows that the largest retailers, with 100 or more employment, reported an average increase in sales of 5.2 per cent between September 2010 and September 2011.

Distribution Analysis

Per cent
Growth in reported retail sales between September 2010 and September 2011 standard reporting periods (by size of business)
Number of employment Weights Growth since September 2010
100+ 78.5 5.2
40-99 2.0 -2.4
10-39 5.8 2.2
0-9 13.7 4.2

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Analysis of individual returns from businesses

The table illustrates the extent to which individual businesses experienced actual changes in their sales between September 2010 and September 2011. The table contains information only from businesses which reported in both periods. Cells with values less than 10 are suppressed for some classification categories, this is denoted by n.a.. Note that large is defined as 100+ employment and 10-99 employment with annual turnover of more than £60m, while small and medium is defined as 0-99 employment.

Changes in reported retail sales between September 2010 and September 2011 standard reporting periods (by size of business)

  Predominantly food Non-specialised predominantly non-food Textile, clothing and footwear Household goods Other non-food Non-store retailing Predominantly automotive fuel Total All Retailing including automotive fuel
All increase 133 34 116 65 346 68 41 803
decrease 106 33 119 83 335 52 22 750
total 239 67 235 148 681 120 63 1,553
Large increase 73 34 89 42 133 30 n.a. 401
decrease 48 33 92 45 125 17 n.a. 360
total 121 67 181 87 258 47 n.a. 761
Small and medium increase 60 n.a. 27 23 213 38 41 402
decrease 58 n.a. 27 38 210 35 22 390
total 118 n.a. 54 61 423 73 63 792

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Background notes

  1. What’s new?

    New this month

    1. The estimate included in the September Retail Sales release incorporate:

    • rebasing of the indices from 2006 to 2008=100 to align with National Accounts outputs,

    • updates from the annual seasonal adjustment review.

    This has resulted in revisions to previously published estimates. 

    2. The pounds thousand dataset contains extra data on seasonally adjusted sales values and non-seasonally adjusted volume sales.  

  2. Code of Practice for Official Statistics

    National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

  3. Understanding the data

    More information on RSI can be found in the Quick Guide to the Retail Sales Index (116.9 Kb Pdf) .

    Interpreting the data

    The Retail Sales Index (RSI) is derived from a monthly survey of 5,000 businesses in Great Britain. The sample represents the whole retail sector and includes all large retailers and a representative panel of smaller businesses. Collectively all of these businesses cover approximately 95 per cent of the retail sector in terms of turnover.

    The RSI covers sales only from businesses registered as retailers according to the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC), an internationally agreed convention for classifying industries. The retail sector is division 47 of the SIC 2007 and retailing is defined as the sale of goods to the general public for household consumption. Consequently the RSI includes all internet businesses whose primary function is retailing and also covers internet sales by other British retailers, such as online sales by supermarkets, department stores and catalogue companies. The RSI does not cover household spending on services bought from the retail sector as it is designed to only cover goods. Respondents are asked to separate out the non-goods elements of their sales, for example, income from cafeterias. Consequently on-line sales of services by retailers, such as car insurance, would also be excluded.

    The monthly survey collects two figures from each sampled business: the total turnover for retail sales for the standard trading period, and a separate figure for sales made over the internet. The total turnover will include internet sales. The separation of the internet sales figure allows an estimate relating to internet sales to be calculated separately.

    Definitions and explanations

    The value or current price series records the growth since the base period (currently 2008) of the value of sales ‘through the till’ before any adjustment for the effects of price changes.

    The volume or constant price series are constructed by removing the effect of price changes from the value series. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the main source of the information required on price changes. In brief, a deflator for each type of store (5-digit SIC) is derived by weighting together the CPI’s for the appropriate commodities, the weights being based on the pattern of sales in the base year. These deflators are then applied to the value data to produce volume series.

    The estimated prices of retail sales (sometimes called the implied price deflator) is derived by comparing the value and volume data non-seasonally adjusted. In general, this implied price deflator should be quite close to the retail component of the CPI.

    Experimental statistics are those which are in the testing phase and are not yet fully developed. The main reason why the Internet retail sales are designated as experimental is that the methods and data sources are still being improved. More information on the internet retail sales strategy (27.5 Kb Pdf)  can be found on the ONS website. 

    Retail sales index categories and their percentage weights in 2009 are available to download under 'Data with this release'.

    Use of the data

    The value and volume measures of retail sales estimates are widely used in private and public sector institutions, particularly by the Bank of England and Her Majesty’s Treasury, to assist in informed decision and policy making.

  4. Methods

    Information on retail sales methodology is available on the ONS website.

    A video explaining retail sales is available on the ONS YouTube Channel.

    Composition of the data

    Estimates in the Statistical Bulletin are based on financial data collected through the monthly Retail Sales Inquiry. The response rates for the current month reflect the response rates at the time of publication. Late returns for the previous month’s data are included in the results each month. Response rates for historical periods are updated to reflect the current level of response at the time of this publication.

    Response Rates

    Per cent
    Overall response rates
    Period Turnover Forms
    2011 Sep 92.4 64.3
    Aug 96.2 79.4
    Jul 98.1 82.9
      Jun 97.4 79.4

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    Seasonal adjustment

    Seasonally adjusted estimates are derived by estimating and removing calendar effects (e.g. Easter moving between March and April) and seasonal effects (e.g. increased spending in December as a result of Christmas) from the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) estimates. Seasonal adjustment is performed each month, and reviewed each year, using the standard, widely used software, X-12-ARIMA. Before adjusting for seasonality, prior adjustments are made for calendar effects (where statistically significant) such as: returns that do not comply with the standard trading period (see section methods, calendar effects), bank holidays, Easter and the day of the week Christmas occurs.

    Calendar effects

    The calculation of the RSI has an adjustment to compensate for calendar effects which arise from the differences in the reporting periods. The reporting period for September 2011 was 28 August 2011 to 1 October 2011 compared with 29 August 2010 to 2 October 2010 the previous year. For example, the annual growth in sales volume between September 2010 and September 2011 requires 0.1 per cent adjustment to take account of the differences in reporting periods and other calendar effects.

    The following table shows the difference between the calendar and seasonally adjusted estimates.

    Calendar Effects

    Year on year percentage change
    Value   Volume
    Calendar adjusted 5.5 0.7
    Seasonally adjusted 5.4   0.6

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  5. Quality

    Basic quality information

    The standard reporting periods can change over time due to the movement of the calendar. Every five or six years the standard reporting periods are brought back into line by adding an extra week. For example, January is typically a four week standard period but January 1986, 1991, 1996, 2002 and 2008 were all five week standard periods. The non-seasonally adjusted estimates will still contain calendar effects. If the non-seasonally adjusted estimates are used for analysis this can lead to a distortion depending on the timing of the standard reporting period in relation to the calendar, previous reporting periods and how trading activity changes over time.

    The non-seasonally adjusted series contain elements relating to the impact of the standard reporting period, moving seasonality and trading day activity. When making comparisons it is recommended that users focus on the seasonally adjusted estimates as these have the systematic calendar related component removed. Due to the volatility of the monthly data, it is recommended that growth rates are calculated using an average of the latest three months of the seasonally adjusted estimates.

    When interpreting the data, consideration should be given to the relative weighted contributions of the sectors within the all retailing series. Based on SIC 2007 data, Total retail sales consists of: predominantly food stores 41.7 per cent, predominantly non-food stores 43.2 per cent, non-store retailing 4.9 per cent and automotive fuel 10.2 per cent.

    Standard errors

    A measure of the accuracy of the RSI has been produced by estimating the standard errors of index movements. For more detail see the article by Winton, J and Ralph, J (2011) ‘Measuring the accuracy of the Retail Sales Index’, Economic & Labour Market Review, February 2011, available on the ONS website. (1.04 Mb Pdf)

    Summary quality report

    A Summary Quality Report for the RSI can be found on the ONS website (114 Kb Pdf) . This report describes, in detail the intended uses of the statistics presented in this publication, their general quality and the methods used to produce them.

    Revision triangles

    Revisions to data provide one indication of the reliability of key indicators. The table shows summary information on the size and direction of the revisions which have been made to the volume data covering a five year period. Note that changes in definition and classification mean that the revision analysis is not conceptually the same over time. A statistical test has been applied which has shown that the average revision in month to month statistics are not statistically different from zero.

    Revision Triangles Summary, September 2011

    Growth in latest period (per cent)
    Average over the last five years (mean revision) Average over the last five years without regard to sign (average absolute revision)
    Latest three months compared to previous three months -0.2 -0.18 0.3
    Latest month compared to previous month 0.6 -0.06 0.41

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    A spreadsheet giving these estimates and the calculations behind the averages in the table is available to download under 'Data with this release'.

  6. Relevant Links

    Methodological changes were introduced in the April 2009 and January 2010 releases. More detail on 2010 changes include:

    More detail on changes in 2009 include:

    For videos on retail sales please see the ONS YouTube Channel.

  7. Publication Policy

    Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the Media Relations Office. Also available is a list of the organisations given pre-publication access (33.9 Kb Pdf) to the contents of this bulletin.

  8. Accessing Data

    The complete run of data in the tables of this statistical bulletin is available to view and download in electronic format using the ONS Time Series Data service. Users can download the complete bulletin in a choice of zipped formats, or view and download their own sections of individual series. The Time Series Data can be accessed on the ONS website.  Alternatively, for low-cost tailored data call 0845 601 3034 or email info@ons.gsi.gov.uk

  9. Copyright and reproduction

    © Crown copyright 2011

    Under the terms of the Open Government Licence and UK Government Licensing Framework, anyone wishing to use or re-use ONS material, whether commercially or privately, may do so freely without a specific application for a licence, subject to the conditions of the OGL and the Framework.

    For further information, contact the Office of Public Sector Information, Crown Copyright Licensing and Public Sector Information, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU.

    Tel: +44 (0)20 8876 3444

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  11. Next publication: Thursday 17 November 2011

    Issued by: Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport NP10 8XG

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    Email  media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    Satistical contact:

    Tel Kate Davies    +44 (0)1633 455602

    Email retail.sales.enquiries@ons.gov.uk

    Contact us:

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  12. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Kate Davies +44 (0)1633 455602 Retail Sales retail.sales.enquiries@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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