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Statistical bulletin: Retail sales, October 2011 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 17 November 2011 Download PDF

Retail Sales, October 2011

  • Value of retail sales in October 2011 showed an increase of 5.4 per cent compared with October 2010.
  • Sales volumes in October 2011 increased by 0.9 per cent compared to October 2010.
  • Non-seasonally adjusted volume data shows that small stores provided the most upward pressure increasing by 5.3 per cent, in comparison large stores decreased by 0.3 per cent over the same period. Non-seasonally adjusted value data shows that small stores value sales grew by 9.5 per cent, in comparison large stores increased by 4.3 per cent.
  • Food stores sales volumes increased year on year for the first time since April 2011 and were up 0.3 per cent in October 2011, this is the first year on year increase in this sector since April 2011 when sales volume increased by 1.7 per cent.
  • Compared to September 2011 sales volumes increased by 0.6 per cent and the value of sales increased by 0.7 per cent. Feedback from retailers suggests that the monthly increase in sales volume and value was a result of pre-Christmas sales and in store promotions.
  • The average weekly spend on online retailing has increased to £561.5 million up from £518.7 million in September 2011.

Key figures

Key Figures, October 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 5.0 0.7 1.4
Volume   0.9 0.3 0.6 0.3
Value excluding automotive fuel 4.1 3.5 0.8 1.5
Volume excluding automotive fuel 0.9 0.1 0.6 0.4

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Supplementary analysis

In October 2011 compared to September 2011, all retail sales volume increased by 0.6 per cent and sales value increased by 0.7 per cent. Feedback from retailers suggests that the monthly increase in sales volume and value was a result of pre-Christmas sales and in store promotions.

Over the period October 2010 to October 2011 prices are estimated to have increased by 4.4 per cent which is lower than in September 2011 where they were estimated to have increased by 4.9 per cent compared to September 2010.

Year on year results

Concentrating on the year on year estimates, October 2011 compared to October 2010 the all retail sales volume increased by 0.9 per cent and sales value increased by 5.4 per cent 

Over this period, sales volumes for the four main sectors show sales volume increases in:

  • predominantly food stores up 0.3 per cent,

  • predominantly non-food stores up 0.1 per cent,

  • non-store retailing up 11.7 per cent,

  • predominantly automotive fuel stores up 1.1 per cent.

There were mixed results however for the sectors that make up predominantly non-food stores:

  • Non-specialised stores or department stores sales volumes increased by 2.3 per cent and household goods stores sales volumes increased by 0.3 per cent. 

  • Stores selling textile, clothing and footwear sales volumes decreased by 1.0 per cent and other stores decreased by 0.3 per cent. 

Size of store

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

  • Small stores increased by 5.3 per cent

  • Large stores decreased by 0.3 per cent

  • All stores increased by 0.9 per cent


Looking now at the sector non-seasonally adjusted year on year estimates we see that in sectors with sales volume increases this increase was driven by increases within small stores. 

Volume NSA year on year change by size and type of store

  All stores Large stores  Small stores
Predominantly food stores 0.3 -1.0 8.5
Predominantly non-food stores 0.1 -0.4 1.5
Non-specialised non food stores 1.8 0.8 14.1
Textile, clothing and footwear stores -0.9 -0.5 -4.0
Household goods stores 0.5 -3.5 10.6
Other stores 0.0 1.7 -1.7
Non-store retailing 10.9 4.1 22.2

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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 contributions to all retailing by sector

    % 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   0.9     5.4  :
                   
Predominantly food stores 41.7   0.3   0.1   5.3 2.3
                   
Predominantly non-food stores                
Total   43.2   0.1   0.1   1.9 0.8
Non-specialised stores 7.8   2.3   0.2   3.1 0.2
Textile, clothing and footwear stores 12.2   -1.0   -0.1   2.6 0.3
Household goods stores 9.7   0.3   0.0   1.4 0.2
Other stores 13.5   -0.3   0.0   1.0 0.1
                   
Non-store retailing 4.9   11.7   0.6   13.0 0.7
                   
Automotive fuel   10.2   1.1   0.1   16.1 1.6

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Amount spent in retail

In October 2011 an estimated £26.8 billion was spent in the retail sector, compared to £32.0 billion in September 2011 and £25.4 billion in October 2010. 

Sector analysis

Predominantly food stores

Volume sales in October 2011 increased by 0.3 per cent compared to October 2010 and is only the second year on year growth within this series in 2011, with April being the other month to post growth.  Sales values increased by 5.3 per cent over the same period and the reason behind this increase can be found in the prices of goods sold at these stores which are estimated to have increased by 5.0 per cent. Feedback from retailers suggests that this increase in sales volumes and values is a result of promotions. 

Non-seasonally adjusted data for this sector shows that again small stores fared better than their larger counterparts, with small stores ie. those with employment less than 100 increasing by 8.5 per cent with sales volumes at large stores decreasing by 1.0 per cent. 

In the non-specialised food stores sub-sector which could be described as supermarkets or corner shops, year on year non-seasonally adjusted data shows sales volumes increasing by 0.4 per cent in all stores with small stores increasing by 15.6 per cent and large stores decreasing by 1.0 per cent.

Non-seasonally adjusted data for the other sub-sectors in predominantly food stores shows that year on year sales volumes in specialised food stores decreased by 7.3 per cent and in stores selling alcohol, other drinks and tobacco increased by 19.0 per cent.

In October 2011 an estimated £10.8 billion was spent in this sector, the equivalent of 40 pence per pound spent in retail during this month.

Predominantly non-food stores

Volume sales in October 2011 increased by 0.1 per cent compared to October 2010 with the largest increase in this sector coming from non-specialised stores. Over the same period sales volumes in household goods stores increased by 0.3 per cent, in textile, clothing and footwear stores decreased by 1.0 per cent and in other stores decreased by 0.3 per cent. 

Sales values increased by 1.9 per cent in October 2011 compared to October 2010. All sub-sectors experienced increases in sales values with non-specialised food stores increasing by 3.1 per cent, textile, clothing and footwear stores increasing by 2.6 per cent, household goods stores increasing by 1.4 per cent and other stores increasing by 1.0 per cent. 

The prices of goods sold in predominantly non-food stores are estimated to have risen by 1.9 per cent. An estimated £11.3 billion was spent in this sector in October 2011 the equivalent of 48 pence per pound spent in retail sector this month and more than any other sector. 

Non-specialised stores

Volume sales in October 2011 increased by 2.3 per cent compared to October 2010 more than in any other non-food sub-sector. Sales values within this sector increased by 3.1 per cent. Feedback provided by retailers in this sector suggests that these increases are a result of promotions. 

The prices of goods sold within these stores are estimated to have increased by 0.8 per cent and an estimated £2.0 billion was spent within this sector in October 2011. 

Textile, clothing and footwear

Sales volumes fell more in October 2011 than in any other sector decreasing by 1.0 per cent compared to October 2010 sales values increased by 2.6 per cent over the same period. Compared to September 2011 sales volumes and values both increased with sales volumes increasing by 0.5 per cent and sales values increasing by 1.3 per cent. Feedback from retailers in this sector suggests that this monthly increase was a result of promotions and consumers purchasing winter clothing. 

Non-seasonally adjusted data shows that only the footwear sector experienced year on year growth with sales volumes increasing by 3.4 per cent. Non-seasonally adjusted sales volumes in clothing stores decreased by 1.1 per cent and in textiles stores decreased by 16.4 per cent.

The prices of goods sold within these stores are estimated to have increased by 3.8 per cent and an estimated £3.4 billion was spent in this sector in October 2011.

Household goods stores

Sales volumes increased by 0.3 per cent in October 2011 compared to October 2010 and sales values increased by 1.4 per cent over the same period. However, it was a mixed picture for the stores within this sector. 

Non-seasonally adjusted data shows that only electrical household appliance stores experienced growth with sales volumes increasing by 6.4 per cent over the period October 2010 to October 2011.  Furniture and lighting stores sales volumes decreased by 0.6 per cent, sales volumes in hardware or DIY stores fell by 1.4 per cent and the biggest decrease was in those stores selling music and video recordings and equipment where sales volumes fell by 12.1 per cent over the same period. 

The prices of goods sold within these stores are estimated to have increased by 1.2 per cent compared to October 2010 and an estimated £2.4 billion was spent in these stores in October 2011.

Other stores

Sales volumes fell by 0.3 per cent in October 2011 compared to October 2010 and sales values increased by 1.0 per cent. Within this sector there were a mixed set of results for retailers. Stores selling computers and telecomms; watches and jewellery; or toys and sporting goods saw sales volumes increase year on year but stores selling carpets and rugs or cosmetics and toiletries saw sales volumes decrease over the same period. 

The prices of goods sold within these stores are estimated to have increased by 1.1 per cent year on year and an estimated £3.4 billion was spent in these stores in October 2011.

Non-store retailing

Sales volumes increased by 11.7 per cent in October 2011 compared to October 2010 and sales values increased by 13.0 per cent over the same period. 

Non-store retailing prices are estimated to have increased by 1.2 per cent year on and an estimated £1.5 billion was spent in this sector in October 2011. 

Predominantly automotive fuel

Stores sales volumes, which includes the sale of automotive fuel at supermarkets, increased in October 2011 by 1.1 per cent compared to October 2010 and sales values increased by 16.1 per cent over the same period.  The prices of goods sold within these stores are estimated to have risen by 14.8 per cent. An estimated £3.1 billion was spent in these stores in October 2011. 

Internet sales

Based on ONS experimental Internet sales series, the non-seasonally adjusted average weekly value of Internet retail sales in October 2011 was £561.5 million which was approximately 9.5 per cent of total retail sales (excluding automotive fuel), compared with October 2010 which was £464.8 million which was approximately 8.2 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 4.3 per cent between October 2010 and October 2011.

Increase in reported retail sales values between October 2010 and October 2011 standard reporting periods (by size and of business)

Per cent
Number of employment Weights Growth since October 2010
100+ 77.4 4.3
40-99 1.9 -6.1
10-39 5.9 -3.2
0-9 14.8 15.1

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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 October 2010 and October 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.

Analysis of individual returns from businesses

Changes in reported retail sales between October 2010 and October 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 138 37 113 58 342 63 41 792
decrease 100 31 128 91 344 50 27 771
total 238 68 241 149 686 113 68 1,563
Large increase 65 37 83 37 130 23 n.a. 375
decrease 54 31 99 50 128 24 n.a. 386
total 119 68 182 87 258 47 n.a. 761
Small and medium increase 73 n.a. 30 21 212 40 41 417
decrease 46 n.a. 29 41 216 26 27 385
total 119 n.a. 59 62 428 66 68 802

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Data Tables

RSI October 2011 Tables (16.24 Mb Pdf) pulls together numerous tables and is available in pdf format. 

  

Background notes

  1. What’s new?

    New this month

    The Retail Sales Index 2010 Triennial review (103.4 Kb Pdf)

  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

    Quick guide to the Retail Sales Index (195 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, e.g. 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. Here is more information on the internet retail sales strategy. (27.5 Kb Pdf)  

    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 retail sales guidance and methodology pages.

    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.

    Overall response rates

    Per cent
    Overall response rates
    Period Turnover Forms
    2011 Oct 94.2 64.4
    Sep 95.6 77.8
    Aug 97.6 81.6
      Jul 98.6 83.0

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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 October 2011 was 2 October 2011 to 29 October 2011 compared with 3 October 2010 to 30 October 2010 the previous year. For example, the annual growth in sales volume between October 2010 and October 2011 requires 0.1 per cent adjustment to take account of the differences in reporting periods and other calendar effects.

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

    Calendar effects

    Year on year percentage change
    Value Volume
    Calendar adjusted 5.4 1.0
    Seasonally adjusted 5.4 0.9

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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’ (2.65 Mb Pdf) , Economic & Labour Market Review, February 2011. 

    Summary quality report


    A Summary Quality Report (245.6 Kb Pdf) for the RSI can be found on the ONS website. 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 below 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.

    Revisions triangles

    Volume seasonally adjusted
    Growth  in latest period (per cent) Revisions between first publication and estimates twelve months later (percentage points)
      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 0.3 -0.19 0.30
    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 in this release'.

  6. Relevant links

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

    More detail on changes in 2009 include:

    Changes to retail sales methodology (124.3 Kb Pdf)

    Frequently asked questions (82.3 Kb Pdf)

    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 (48.2 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

  10. Follow ONS on Twitter or Facebook or view our podcasts on YouTube.

  11. 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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