Retail sales, Great Britain: June 2019

A first estimate of retail sales in volume and value terms, seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted.

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This is an accredited national statistic.

Contact:
Email Rhian Murphy

Release date:
18 July 2019

Next release:
15 August 2019

1. Main points

  • In the three months to June 2019, the quantity bought increased by 0.7%, with growth across all sectors except food stores and department stores; however, this was a slowdown from the stronger growth of 1.6% in the three months to May 2019.

  • The quantity bought in June 2019 increased by 1.0% when compared with May 2019; non-food stores provided the largest contribution to this growth.

  • The year-on-year growth rate shows that the quantity bought in June 2019 increased by 3.8%, with growth across all sectors except department stores, while May 2019 was at 2.2% for the year-on-year growth rate.

  • Online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell to 18.9% in June 2019, from the 19.3% reported in May 2019.

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2. Things you need to know about this release

This bulletin presents estimates of the quantity bought (volume) and amount spent (value) in the retail industry for the five-week period 26 May 2019 to 29 June 2019.

Unless otherwise stated, the estimates in this release are seasonally adjusted.

Retail Sales collects turnover data from retailers, which is money through the till before any deductions, including refunded items. This provides us with the best indicator for consumer spending during the reference period.

The Retail Sales Index (RSI) measures the value and volume of retail sales in Great Britain on a monthly basis. Data are collected from businesses in the retail industry and the survey’s results are used to produce seasonally adjusted monthly, quarterly and annual estimates of output in the retail industry at current price and at chained volume measures (removing the effect of price changes).

The RSI is an important economic indicator and one of the earliest short-term measures of economic activity. It is used in the compilation of the national accounts and widely used by private and public sector institutions, particularly by the Bank of England and Her Majesty’s Treasury to assist in informed decision- and policy-making.

Summary information can be found in the RSI Quality and Methodology Information report.

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3. Main figures for total retail sales

In June 2019, estimates for both the amount spent (value) and quantity bought (volume) in retail sales showed growth across all measures (Table 1).

Both the amount spent and the quantity bought in the retail industry reported strong growth of 4.3% and 3.8% respectively when compared with a year earlier.

The monthly picture also showed strong growth of 1.3% for the amount spent and 1.0% for the quantity bought.

In the three months to June 2019, the amount spent and the quantity bought both increased by 0.7% respectively when compared with the previous three months. This has slowed from the stronger growth of 1.5% in the amount spent and 1.6% in the quantity bought in the three months to May 2019.

Figure 1 shows the volatile monthly growth rate against the three-month on three-month trend for a longer-term picture.

Figure 1 shows the quantity bought in retail sales over time for both the rolling three-month on three-month and the month-on-month movement.

While both series show a general increase in retail sales, the monthly path shows more volatility than the smoother three-month on three-month series.

From June 2016, sales were increasing at a steady rate until late 2016, when a short period of contraction was seen in the three months to March 2017. From April 2017, sales began to recover and increase steadily, albeit at a slower rate. From January 2018, the quantity bought began to level for a short period until May 2018, when a faster rate of growth was seen during the summer of 2018. This was partly attributed to consecutive months of hot weather as sales in the three months to June, July and August 2018 increased by 2.1%, 2.7% and 2.2% respectively. Slow growth followed for a period from October 2018 to February 2019 for the three-month on three-month growth rate.

The monthly growth rate of 1.3% in March 2019 resulted in a stronger rate of growth in the three-month on three-month movement at 1.6% for three consecutive months. This slowed to 0.7% in June 2019 as the growth in March 2019 falls into the previous three months.

A stronger month-on-month growth of 1.0% was reported in June 2019 compared with a fall of 0.6% in May 2019.

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4. Year-on-year contributions to growth by sector

In June 2019, all four main sectors contributed positively to the amount spent, and all sectors except food contributed positively to the quantity bought. This resulted in year-on-year contributions of 4.3 and 3.8 percentage points respectively.

Non-store retailing and non-food stores provided the largest contribution to the growth, with the amount spent at 1.5 percentage points and the quantity bought at 1.6 percentage points for both sectors.

In contrast, food stores were the smallest contributor to growth in the amount spent at 0.6 percentage points and provided no contribution to the quantity bought.

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5. Month-on-month contributions to growth by sector

All four main sectors contributed positively to the month-on-month growth for both the amount spent at 1.3 percentage points and the quantity bought at 1.0 percentage point.

Non-food stores provided the largest contribution to the month-on-month growth, with both the amount spent and quantity bought at 0.7 percentage points. The main driver behind the large contribution from non-food stores is from other non-food stores (Table 2).

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6. A closer look at non-food stores

Non-food stores has the largest weight in total retail sales with 41 pence in every pound spent in this sector. Table 2 shows the monthly and year-on-year growth for each store type within non-food stores along with their respective weights.

In June 2019, department stores continued the general downward trend as the only sector to show a fall in non-food stores, at negative 0.2% for the amount spent and negative 0.4% for the quantity bought. This was the sixth consecutive month-on-month decline for department stores.

Clothing stores reported growth in both the amount spent and quantity bought in June 2019 of 1.5% and 1.2% respectively; partly recovering from the strong falls reported in the previous month at negative 3.4% for the amount spent and 3.8% for the quantity bought. Feedback from retailers suggested this was a consequence of consumers reacting well to summer sales following a slow uptake in the previous month.

Other stores is the largest component within non-food stores and with a month-on-month increase of 3.2% for both the quantity bought and the amount spent, this store type provided the largest contribution to the monthly growth in non-food stores (Figure 4).

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7. Contributions from non-food stores

With a strong growth rate of 3.2% and as the largest weight in non-food stores, “other non-food stores” was the largest contributor to the growth in non-food at 1.0 percentage point.

Six of the ten store types included in the “other non-food stores” sector contributed positively to the growth, with second-hand stores as the largest contributor.

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8. What’s the story in online sales?

Table 3 shows the month-on-month and year-on-year growth rates for online retailing, by sector, in addition to the proportion of online sales to all retail sales. The percentage weights indicate where money is spent online.

Internet sales increased by 8.0% for the amount spent in June 2019 when compared with June 2018, with all sectors showing growth except food stores.

In contrast, internet sales fell on the month by 0.7% when compared with May 2019. Non-store retailing was the largest contributor to this fall at negative 3.1%.

Online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell to 18.9% in June 2019, from the 19.3% reported in May 2019.

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10. Quality and methodology

Our Monthly Business Survey (MBS) for retail sales measures output from the retail industry in Great Britain. It samples 5,000 businesses, with all businesses employing over 100 people or with an annual turnover of more than £60 million receiving an online questionnaire every month.

Further qualitative data or information and summary tables can be found in the attached datasets. These include data on:

  • response rates

  • standard errors

  • revision triangle

  • distribution analysis

The Retail sales Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data

  • uses and users of the data

  • how the output was created

  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Rhian Murphy
retail.sales.enquiries@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455602