Retail sales, Great Britain: February 2024

Retail sales remain unchanged from January 2024, according to a first estimate.

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Release date:
22 March 2024

Next release:
19 April 2024

1. Overview

Retail sales volumes (quantity bought) were estimated to be flat (0.0%) in February 2024, following an increase of 3.6% in January 2024 (revised from an increase of 3.4%).

Sales volumes in clothing and department stores grew because of new collections but falls in food stores and fuel retailers offset this growth. Meanwhile online sales increased, particularly for clothing retailers, as wet weather affected footfall.

More broadly, sales volumes fell by 0.4% in the three months to February 2024 when compared with the previous three months, and by 1.0% when compared with the three months to February 2023.

Heather Bovill, Deputy Director for Surveys and Economic Indicators, talks us through the data in our Explaining the latest Retail Sales statistics video.

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2. Retail sales in February

February 2024 was a steadier month as sales values (amount spent) fell marginally by 0.1%, alongside unchanged volumes.

However, volumes fell 0.4% over the year and remained 1.3% below their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic level in February 2020. These data are available in our Retail Sales Index datasets.

The reporting period for this bulletin covers 28 January 2024 to 24 February 2024.

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3. Retail sectors

Non-food stores sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) rose by 0.7% over the month to February 2024, but fell 0.5% over the year.

Most of the increase within non-food stores was because of a monthly rise of 1.7% within clothing stores, following recent monthly falls. Retailers reported that new collections and promotions contributed to this rise.

Sales volumes at department stores and other non-food stores also grew over the month (by 1.6% and 0.4%, respectively). However, household goods stores fell by 1.0% with respondents reporting the economic climate and poor weather as factors that contributed to the fall.

The Met Office climate summaries reported a mild but wet February 2024 with generally unsettled weather. Southern England received 239% of its average rainfall and in this area, it was the wettest February on record (from 1836).

Food stores sales volumes fell by 0.3% over the month following January's recovery from December's record fall in 2023. Respondents again reported poor weather leading to a reduction in footfall, consistent with footfall measures in our Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators bulletin.

Automotive fuel sales volumes fell by 1.3% over the month to February 2024 as fuel prices increased slightly. For more information on fuel prices, see GOV.UK's Weekly road fuel prices tables.

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4. Online retail

The amount spent online, known as online spending values, rose by 2.1% over the month to February 2024 (2.2% over the year). This monthly rise was the largest since July 2023 when shoppers switched to online shopping because of poor weather and increased promotions.

Clothing retailers reported strong online sales while department stores and household goods stores were the only two subsectors where sales values fell over the month.

This monthly increase in online sales led to a rise in the proportion of sales made online, from 25.1% in January 2024 to 25.7% in February 2024.

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5. Retail sales data

Retail Sales Index
Dataset | Released 22 March 2024
A series of retail sales data for Great Britain in value and volume terms, seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted.

Retail sales pounds data
Dataset | Released 22 March 2024
Total sales and average weekly spending estimates for each retail sector in Great Britain in the thousands (British pounds).

Retail Sales Index internet sales
Dataset | Released 22 March 2024
Internet sales in Great Britain by store type, month, and year.

Retail Sales Index categories and their percentage weights
Dataset | Released 22 March 2024
Retail sales categories and descriptions and their percentage of all retailing in Great Britain.

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6. Measuring the data

For February 2024, the response rates were 63.6% based on returned forms, and this accounted for 93.6% of total turnover coverage of the sample population. For historical response information, see our Retail sales quality tables.

Information on how we calculated the data, including their strengths and limitations, and a glossary of relevant terms are available in our Retail Sales Index Quality and Methodology Information (QMI).

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7. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 22 March 2024, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Retail sales, Great Britain: February 2024

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Retail Sales team
Telephone: +44 1633 455602