Retail sales, Great Britain: March 2024

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

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Release date:
19 April 2024

Next release:
24 May 2024

1. Overview

Retail sales volumes (quantity bought) were estimated to be flat (0.0%) in March 2024, following an increase of 0.1% in February 2024 (revised from 0.0%).

Within retail, sales were mixed, with automotive fuel and non-food stores sales volumes rising by 3.2% and 0.5%, respectively. This was offset by falls in food stores and non-store retailers of 0.7% and 1.5%.

Looking at the quarter, sales volumes increased by 1.9% in the three months to March 2024 when compared with the previous three months. This was following low sales volumes over the Christmas period for retailers.

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2. Retail sales in March

March 2024 continued the steady trend seen in February 2024, as both sales values (amount spent) and volumes saw no change on the month (0.0%).

Volumes rose 0.8% over the year to March 2024, while remaining 1.2% 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 25 February 2024 to 30 March 2024.

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3. Retail sectors

Automotive fuel sales volumes rose in March 2024 to reach their highest index level since May 2022. Retailers reported that this rise was linked to increased footfall on their forecourts.

Non-food stores sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) rose by 0.5% over the month, with increased footfall reported by some retailers. This is consistent with the rise in footfall on the high street, as seen in the national retail footfall data in our Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators bulletin. Rises were seen in secondhand goods stores (which includes antiques and auction houses), hardware and furniture stores, and clothing stores.

Offsetting these rises, department stores, food stores and non-store retailing sales volumes all fell over the month with retailers suggesting that increased prices were affecting consumer spending habits.

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4. Online retail

The amount spent online, known as online spending values, rose by 0.1% over the month to March 2024, and by 1.7% over the year.

As total spend showed no growth on the month, the 0.1% rise in the amount spent online increased the proportion of sales made online, from 25.8% in February 2024 (revised from 25.7%) to 25.9% in March 2024.

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5. Retail sales data

Retail Sales Index
Dataset | Released 19 April 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 19 April 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 19 April 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 March 2024, the response rates were 58.4% based on returned forms, and this accounted for 91.6% 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 19 April 2024, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Retail sales, Great Britain: March 2024

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Retail Sales team
Telephone: +44 1633 455602