Retail sales volumes fell by 1.4% in September 2022; making them 1.3% below pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) February 2020 levels.
While retailers continue to mention the effect of rising prices and the cost of living on sales volumes, data for September 2022 are also affected by the bank holiday for the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, when many retailers closed.
In the three months to September 2022, sales volumes fell by 2.0% when compared with the previous three months; this continues the downward trend seen since summer 2021.
Food store sales volumes fell by 1.8% in September 2022, which leaves them 3.2% below their pre-coronavirus levels in February 2020.
Non-store retailing (predominantly online retailers) sales volumes fell by 3.0% in September 2022; despite this fall, sales volumes were 18.0% above their February 2020 levels.
Non-food stores sales volumes fell by 0.6% in September 2022 and are 2.7% below February 2020 levels.
Automotive fuel sales volumes fell by 1.3% in September 2022; these were 10.2% below their February 2020 levels.
The proportion of retail sales taking place online was 26.4% in September 2022; this has remained at a broadly consistent level since May 2022.
month on a
3 months on
a year earlier
3 months on
Download this table Table 1: Main retail figures, volume and value sales.xls .csv
Table 1 provides a snapshot of the retail sales industry in September 2022, with both value and volume growth rates.
Retail sales volumes and values both fell by 1.4% in September, following a fall of 1.7% in August 2022 (sales volumes were revised from a fall of 1.6%).
When compared with the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) level in February 2020, total retail sales were 12.0% higher in value terms but volumes were 1.3% lower.
Compared with the same period a year earlier, retail sales volumes fell by 5.4% in the three months to September 2022, while sales values rose by 5.5%.
The reporting period for this bulletin covers 28 August to 1 October 2022 and includes the bank holiday on 29 August 2022 and the bank holiday for the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 19 September 2022.
As many retailers closed on 19 September 2022, there was one less trading day than usual during the reporting period for these retailers. As a one-off event, this impact does not get removed from our seasonally adjusted estimates. This should be considered when interpreting the seasonally adjusted movements involving September 2022. More information on our seasonal adjustment approach is available in Measuring the data
Figure 1 shows the quantity bought (volume) and amount spent (value) in retail sales over time. Sales volumes fell by 1.4% in September 2022, continuing a broad downward trend since the lifting of hospitality restrictions in the summer of 2021. Total retail sales volumes were at their lowest level since February 2021 and were 1.3% below their pre-coronavirus level in February 2020.
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Month-on-month contribution to growth by sector
Figure 2 shows the contributions to the 1.4% month-on-month fall in overall retail sales volumes (quantity bought) in September 2022.
All the main sectors (food stores, non-food stores, non-store retailing and fuel) fell over the month.Back to table of contents
Food store sales volumes fell by 1.8% in September 2022 and were 3.2% 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 food prices and cost of living impacts.
Non-store retailing sales volumes fell by 3.0% in September 2022, following a fall of 3.9% in August 2022. These sales volumes had a broad downward trend as the wider economy reopened and people could return to shopping in stores. Despite this fall, sales volumes are 18.0% above their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.
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.
Non-food stores sales volumes fell by 0.6% over the month and were 2.7% below their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.
Household goods stores (such as furniture stores) sales volumes fell by 1.5% in September 2022 because of falls in each of its sub-industries. Continuing feedback from retailers suggests that consumers are cutting back on spending because of increased prices and affordability concerns.
Other non-food stores, such as jewellery stores, reported a monthly fall in sales volumes of 0.7% in September 2022, while department stores fell by 0.6%.
Clothing stores sales volumes rose by 0.1% in September 2022 mainly because of growth in footwear stores.
Despite weekly forecourt prices continuing to fall, as reported in our Consumer price inflation September 2022 bulletin, automotive fuel sales volumes fell by 1.3% in September 2022, following a fall of 1.6% in August 2022. Sales volumes were 10.2% below their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels.
Results from our Public opinion and social trends dataset (XLSX, 177KB) covering the period 14 to 25 September 2022 found that, of the 91% of adults who said that their cost of living had increased, 41% were cutting back on non-essential journeys in private vehicles. Our Public opinion and social trends bulletin for 29 September to 9 October 2022 was published on 14 October 2022.
Average road fuel sales published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) also reported significantly reduced sales on the bank holiday for the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 19 September 2022.Back to table of contents
as a proportion
of retail in this
month on a
Download this table Table 2: Summary of internet statistics.xls .csv
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 rose by 1.2% in September 2022, because of growth in all sectors apart from household goods stores.
The value of online spending rose while retail sales as a whole fell, so the proportion of online sales increased slightly to 26.4% from 26.0% in August 2022. The proportion of retail sales online has remained broadly consistent at around 26% since May 2022.Back to table of contents
Retail Sales Index
Dataset | Released 21 October 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 21 October 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 21 October 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.
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 impact of price changes.
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 estimates refer to raw data where the effects of regular or seasonal patterns have not been removed.
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.Back to table of contents
Bank holidays 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 data for September 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 the day of the week Christmas occur. Adjustments for repeating and predictable effects are estimated and removed from the final seasonally adjusted series, for example a permanent change in the seasonal pattern. Adjustments for effects that do not repeat are estimated and removed during the seasonal adjustment process (so they do not affect the normal seasonal adjustment) but are then put back into the final seasonally adjusted series, for example the effect of extreme weather or one-off quantifiable events.
While the bank holiday on 29 August 2022 is a regular bank holiday, 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.
There is likely to be some impact on our estimates in September 2022 because there is one less trading day in the reporting period. This is an ad hoc 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.
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 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.
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.Back to table of contents
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 September 2022 was published by the United States Census Bureau on 14 October 2022. In their Advanced monthly sales for retail and food services, September 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 release for Quarter 2 (Apr to Jun) 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 6 October 2022 for August 2022. This shows the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade in both the euro area (EA19) and the European Union (EU27), when compared with July 2022.Back to table of contents
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
Telephone: +44 1633 455602