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Discount store sales help boost retail spending in February

Retail sales volumes (the amount bought in shops) rose by 1.2% across Great Britain in February 2023, following a rise of 0.9% in January.

However, these are down 3.5% on the same month last year, as volumes sold fell throughout 2022.

The amount sold in non-food stores saw a rise of 2.4% in the month because of strong sales in discount department stores.

Department store sales volumes rose 5.5%, and clothing stores rose by 2.9%.

Food store sales volumes rose 0.9% in February 2023, which may be because of reduced spending in pubs and restaurants as people eat in more because of cost of living pressures.

The amount spent in retail stores (values) rose by 1.6% between January and February 2023, as inflation has led to higher prices.

While the amount bought in retail stores returned to pre pandemic February 2020 levels in the latest month, the amount spent was 16.8% higher.

Around a quarter (24%) of adults in Great Britain have borrowed more money or used more credit in last month compared with a year ago, according to our latest public opinions and social trends survey.

In response to the rising cost of living, more than 6 in 10 adults (63%) reported that they are spending less on non-essentials.

Adults who report borrowing more money or using more credit compared with a year ago because of the increased cost of living are twice as likely to report low happiness, compared with those who are not borrowing more money, according to data from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey from 14 September 2022 to 8 January 2023.

Spending on credit and debit cards increased last month, following typical seasonal patterns.

In February 2023 the aggregate monthly CHAPS based indicator of credit and debit card spending rose by 6 percentage points on the previous month.

The largest rise was in “work-related” spending, which rose by 10 percentage points compared with January 2023.

UK retail footfall (a measure of consumer activity) increased by 9% in the week to 19 March 2023, according to data from analytics firm Springboard, and was 4% above levels recorded during the equivalent week last year.

However, it was still below the level recorded in the equivalent week of 2019.

According to data from financial tech company Revolut, debit card spending in the week to 19 March 2023 was broadly similar to levels seen in the previous week, although it was higher than during the equivalent week of 2022.

Retail spending was 35 percentage points higher than a year earlier, which was the largest annual increase of any sector.

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