Retail sales, Great Britain: November 2023

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

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Release date:
22 December 2023

Next release:
19 January 2024

1. Main Points

  • Retail sales volumes are estimated to have increased by 1.3% in November 2023, from no growth (revised from a fall of 0.3%) in October 2023.

  • Looking broader, sales volumes fell by 0.8% in the three months to November 2023 when compared with the previous three months.

  • Non-food store sales volumes rose by 2.3% in November 2023, following a 0.2% increase in October 2023; retailers suggested that earlier Black Friday sales and wider discounting contributed to the increase.

  • Food store sales volumes rose by 0.8% in November 2023, from an increase of 0.1% in October 2023.

  • Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 0.6% in November 2023 as fuel prices fell.

  • Non-store retailing (predominantly online retailers) sales volumes rose by 0.2% in November 2023, following a rise of 0.5% in October 2023.

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2. Retail sales in November

Table 1 provides a snapshot of the retail sales industry in November 2023, with both volume and value growth rates.

The reporting period for this bulletin covers 29 October to 25 November 2023. The official Black Friday day of promotion was 24 November and is included in our reference period. However, many retailers had Black Friday deals throughout the month of November. Cyber Monday will be included in December's release as it took place on 27 November.

Our estimates are seasonally adjusted, which means they account for seasonal effects such as Black Friday, or increased spending over Christmas. More information can be found in Section 4: Black Friday.

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 similar trends, the monthly path shows more volatility than the smoother three-month on three-month series. Three-month on three-month sales volumes fell by 0.8% in November 2023, continuing a trend seen in recent months.

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Month-on-month contribution to growth by sector

Figure 2 shows contributions to the 1.3% monthly increase in overall retail sales volumes (quantity bought) in November 2023. This highlights that the increase over the month was mainly because of an increase in non-food stores, but also from both food stores and automotive fuel. The contribution of non-store retailing rounded to zero.

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3. Retail sales, selected sectors

Non-food stores

Total non-food store sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) rose by 2.3% in November 2023, from an increase of 0.2% in October 2023. Retailers suggested that earlier Black Friday sales and wider discounting contributed to the increase.

Despite the strong increase over the month, non-food store sales volumes were 2.7% below their pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

Within non-food, all sub-sectors reported increases in sales volumes over the month. Household goods store sales volumes rose by 3.5% in November 2023 following a fall of 2.6% in October 2023. The increase over the month was mainly because of strong growth in furniture and lighting stores as retailers reported discounts during November 2023.

This is supported by our Consumer price inflation, UK: November 2023 bulletin, which reported that the price of furniture and household goods fell by 0.2% over the month to November 2023, compared with a rise of 0.6% in 2022.

Other non-food store sales volumes grew by 2.6% in November 2023 as retailers reported Black Friday deals increasing sales. Within this sub-sector, computer stores, sports equipment and toy stores and cosmetics stores grew strongly over the month.

Department store sales volumes rose by 2.3% in November 2023, with retailers reporting promotions throughout the month.

Clothing stores reported a 1.3% increase in November 2023 sales volumes with retailers attributing this to earlier, and increased, Christmas spending compared with a usual November.

Food stores

Food store sales volumes rose by 0.8% in November 2023 from an increase of 0.1% in October 2023.

Supermarkets reported an increase in sales volumes of 0.1% over the month while specialist food stores (such as butchers and bakers), and alcohol and tobacco stores, reported rises of 8.5% and 5.2%, respectively. Specialist food stores reported that the increased spending was because of earlier and increased Christmas shopping compared with a usual November.

Automotive fuel

Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 0.6% in November 2023, following a fall of 1.7% in October 2023. Retailers suggested the increase over the month was supported by falling fuel prices.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero reported falling fuel prices since mid-October 2023 in their Weekly road fuel prices release.

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4. Black Friday

Figure 6 shows spending in the retail industry from 2013, when Black Friday first became established in the UK. Data supplied by our contributors show how seasonal the retail sales industry is, with large peaks occurring each December. We use seasonal adjustment methods to estimate for these regular impacts, including for recent events such as promotions as part of Black Friday sales. We therefore advise our users to focus on the seasonally adjusted estimates, which can allow for the evolving changes to consumer patterns over time.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, sales volumes increased by 13.7% over the month to November 2023. However, when this usual seasonal increase is accounted for through seasonally adjustment, sales volumes rose by 1.3% between October and November 2023.

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5. Online retail

Table 2 shows the month-on-month and month-on-year (annual) growth rates for the amount spent online by value, and the proportion of total retail sales value that was made online by sector. The percentage weights show where money is spent online. For example, seven pence in every pound spent online was spent in department stores in 2022.

Online spending values rose by 1.5% from October to November 2023, mainly because of a strong increase in the sub-sector other non-food stores.

As the monthly increase in the value of online retail was slightly larger than the monthly increase in the value of total retail, the proportion of online sales rose slightly, from 26.5% in October 2023 to 26.6% in November 2023.

The proportion of online sales is broadly consistent with the average of the preceding 12 months (26.5%) and substantially above pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels (19.7% in February 2020).

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6. Retail sales data

Retail Sales Index
Dataset | Released 22 December 2023
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 December 2023
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 December 2023
Internet sales in Great Britain by store type, month and year.

Retail Sales Index categories and their percentage weights
Dataset | Released 24 March 2023
Retail sales categories and descriptions, and their percentage of all retailing in Great Britain.

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7. Glossary

Value (amount spent)

The value estimates reflect the total turnover that businesses have collected over a standard period.

Volume (quantity bought)

The volume estimates are calculated by taking the value estimates and adjusting to remove the effect of price changes.

Seasonally adjusted

Seasonally adjusted estimates are derived by estimating and removing calendar effects (for example, Easter moving between April and May) and seasonal effects (such as increased spending in December because of Christmas) from the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) estimates.

Non-seasonally adjusted

Non-seasonally adjusted estimates refer to raw data, where the effects of regular or seasonal patterns have not been removed.

Non-store retailing

Non-store retailing refers to retailers that do not have a store presence. While the majority is made up of online retailers, it also includes other retailers, such as stalls and markets.

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8. Measuring the data


More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in our Retail Sales Index Quality and Methodology Information (QMI)

Following analysis of their use, the business analysis dataset and the distribution analysis table, within the summary tables dataset in data published alongside this release have been discontinued. Please contact us at if you need these tables in future.  


Revisions in this release are a result of: 

  • revisions to seasonal adjustment factors, which have been reviewed and re-estimated

  • late responses to survey returns replacing imputations, or revisions to original returns 

Revisions are allowed to occur naturally each month, along the full length of each data time series, following direct seasonal adjustment of the component time series.  

For further information on the revisions profile, please see our Retail sales revisions triangles dataset, published on a one-month growth basis, and our Retail sales revisions triangles datasets, published on a three-month growth basis.

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9. Strengths and limitations

Uses and users

The Retail Sales Index (RSI) is an important economic indicator and one of the earliest short-term measures of economic activity. It is used in the creation of the national accounts and widely used by private and public sector institutions, particularly by the Bank of England and HM Treasury, to assist in informed decision and policymaking.

Comparability with international data

The most recent international estimate of retail sales available for October 2023 was published by the United States Census Bureau on 14 December 2023. In their Advanced monthly sales for retail and food services October 2023 report, they included the amount spent in the United States retail industry, including motor vehicles and parts, and food services.

Data for Northern Ireland are published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). Retail Sales Index headline figures and commentary for Northern Ireland are included in their Index of Services release for Quarter 3 (Jul to Sept) 2023 published on 14 December.

It should be noted that accurate comparisons cannot be made against these or other international statistics for a variety of reasons, including differences in methodology.

Eurostat also published their latest estimates of the volume of retail trade across the EU on 6 December 2023 for October 2023. This shows the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade in both the euro area (EA19) and the European Union (EU27), when compared with September 2023.

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11. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 22 December 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Retail sales, Great Britain: November 2023

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Rhys Lewis
Telephone: +44 1633 455602