Retail sales, Great Britain: October 2022

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

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Contact:
Email Rhys Lewis

Release date:
18 November 2022

Next release:
16 December 2022

1. Main points

  • Retail sales volumes are estimated to have risen by 0.6% in October 2022 following a fall of 1.5% in September (revised from a fall of 1.4%) which was affected by the additional bank holiday for the State Funeral.

  • Sales volumes fell by 2.4% in the three months to October 2022 when compared with the previous three months; this continues the downward trend seen since summer 2021.

  • Increases over the month were seen in all of the main sectors apart from food stores, where sales volumes fell by 1.0% in October 2022, 4.1% below their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) levels in February 2020.

  • Non-food stores sales volumes rose by 1.1% in October 2022 and were 1.7% below February 2020 levels.

  • Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 3.3% in October 2022, following a fall of 1.2% in September; these were 6.9% below their February 2020 levels.

  • Non-store retailing (predominantly online retailers) sales volumes rose by 1.8% in October 2022 following a fall of 2.5% in September; sales volumes were 21.2% above their February 2020 levels.

  • The proportion of retail sales taking place online was 26.1% in October 2022; this has remained at a broadly consistent level since May 2022.

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Estimates for September 2022 were affected by the bank holiday for the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, where some businesses closed or operated differently on that day. This should be considered when interpreting the movement between September and October 2022.

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2. Retail sales in October

Table 1 provides a snapshot of the retail sales industry in October 2022, with both value and volume growth rates.

Retail sales volumes rose by 0.6% in October, following a fall of 1.5% in September 2022 (revised from a fall of 1.4%). Retail sales values, unadjusted for price changes, rose by 1.8% in October 2022, following a fall of 1.4% in September 2022. When compared with the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level in February 2020, total retail sales were 14.2% higher in value terms, but volumes were 0.6% lower.

Compared with the same period a year earlier, retail sales volumes fell by 6.1% in the three months to October 2022, while sales values rose by 4.7%.

The reporting period for this bulletin covers 2 to 29 October 2022.

It is important to note that many retailers closed on the additional bank holiday for the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 19 September 2022. Therefore, there was one less trading day than usual for these retailers in the September reporting period which covered 28 August to 1 October 2022. This should be considered when interpreting the seasonally adjusted movements between September and October 2022. More information on our seasonal adjustment approach is available in Measuring the data.

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.

In the three months to October 2022, sales volumes fell by 2.4% when compared with the previous three months. This is the lowest three-month on three-month growth rate since March 2021, when restrictions were in place.

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Month-on-month contribution to growth by sector

Figure 2 shows the contributions to the 0.6% month-on-month increase in overall retail sales volumes (quantity bought) in October 2022. This highlights that the fall in food stores sales volume was offset by positive growth in the other main sectors.

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3. Retail sales, selected sectors

Food stores

Food store sales volumes fell by 1.0% in October 2022 and were 4.1% below their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) February 2020 levels.

Food sales volumes have followed a downward trend since summer 2021 following the lifting of restrictions on hospitality.

In recent months, supermarkets have highlighted that they are seeing a decline in volumes sold because of increased cost of living and food prices.

Non-food stores

Non-food stores sales volumes rose by 1.1% over the month. Despite this monthly increase they were 1.7% below their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.

The sub-sector of other non-food stores reported a monthly rise in sales volumes of 3.6% because of strong growth in second-hand goods stores (particularly auctioning houses).

Clothing stores sales volumes rose by 2.5% in October 2022, 3.7% below their February 2020 levels.

Department stores sales volumes fell by 0.3% over the month of October 2022.

Household goods stores (such as furniture stores) sales volumes fell by 4.0% in October 2022, 11.8% below their February 2020 levels.

Automotive fuel

Automotive fuel sales volumes rose by 3.3% in October 2022, following a fall of 1.2% in September 2022. Despite the increase over the month, sales volumes were 6.9% below their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.

Some of the increase over the month is because of reduced sales around the bank holiday for the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 19 September 2022. This is also reported in Average road fuel sales, deliveries and stock levels, published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Fuel prices fell by 0.5% between September and October 2022, as reported in our Consumer price inflation October 2022 bulletin, which may have also contributed to the increase in sales volumes over the month.  

Non-store retailing

Non-store retailing sales volumes rose by 1.8% in October 2022, following a fall of 2.5% in September 2022. However, since early 2021, sales volumes had a broad downward trend as the wider economy reopened and people could return to shopping in stores.

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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4. 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, 7.6 pence in every pound spent online was spent in department stores in 2021.

Online spending values fell by 0.7% in October 2022, because of strong falls across non-food sub-sectors.

The value of online spending fell while retail sales as a whole rose, so the proportion of online sales fell slightly to 26.1% from 26.5% in September 2022. The proportion of retail sales online has remained broadly consistent at around 26% since May 2022.

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5. Retail sales data

Retail Sales Index
Dataset | Released 18 November 2022
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 18 November 2022
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 18 November 2022
Internet sales in Great Britain by store type, month and year.

Retail Sales Index categories and their percentage weights
Dataset | Released 25 March 2022
Retail sales categories and descriptions, and their percentage of all retailing in Great Britain.

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6. 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 March and April) and seasonal effects (for example, 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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7. Measuring the data

Bank holiday in September 2022

As many retailers closed on 19 September 2022, there was one less trading day during the reporting period for these retailers. This should be considered when interpreting movements between September and October 2022.

As part of our usual seasonal adjustment practice, prior adjustments are made for calendar effects (where statistically significant) such as regular bank holidays, Easter and Christmas. Adjustments for repeating and predictable effects (such as a permanent change in the seasonal pattern) are estimated and removed from the final seasonally adjusted series. Adjustments for effects that do not repeat (such as the effect of extreme weather or one-off quantifiable events) are estimated and removed during the seasonal adjustment process. This is so they do not affect the normal seasonal adjustment, as they are then put back into the final seasonally adjusted series.

The bank holiday for the State Funeral on 19 September 2022 was not a regular bank holiday, so there is not an explicit adjustment to account for it as part of the seasonal adjustment process.

Estimates in September 2022 may be affected because there is one less trading day in the reporting period for some retailers. This is an unplanned effect, so it does not get removed from our seasonally adjusted estimates. Caution should therefore be taken when interpreting the seasonally adjusted movements involving September 2022, and monthly growth between September and October 2022.

Quality

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).

Revisions

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 the retail sales revisions triangles published on a one-month growth basis and retail sales revisions triangles published on a three-month growth basis

Compliance check on retail sales statistics

On 11 February 2022, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) published a letter that confirmed the continued designation of retail sales statistics as National Statistics. In its findings, the OSR recommended that we publish a further update on our ongoing developments, future priorities for retail sales statistics, and our plans for user engagement. An update on retail sales developments was published on 29 June 2022.

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8. 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 compilation 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 2022 was published by the United States Census Bureau on 16 October 2022. In their Advanced monthly sales for retail and food services, October 2022 (PDF, 664KB), 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). Their Retail Sales Index release for Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2022 was published on 15 September 2022.

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 (PDF, 500KB) across the EU on 8 November 2022 for September 2022. This shows the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade in both the euro area (EA19) and the European Union (EU27), when compared with August 2022.

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10. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 18 November 2022, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Retail sales; Great Britain: October 2022

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Rhys Lewis
retail.sales.enquiries@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 1633 455602