Retail sales up

Retail Sales, January 2015

  • Retail sales in January 2015 were estimated to have increased by 5.4% compared with January 2014. This is the 22nd consecutive month of year-on-year growth and the longest period of sustained year-on-year growth since May 2008
  • Compared with December 2014, the quantity bought in the retail industry was estimated to have decreased by 0.3%.
  • Average store prices fell by 3.1% in January 2015 compared with January 2014.
  • In January 2015, the amount spent in the retail industry increased by 2.3% compared with January 2014 and fell by 1.0% compared with December 2014.

Dip in sales growth

Distributive Trades Survey: CBI

  • Retail sales were broadly flat in the year to February and orders placed upon suppliers fell
  • The survey of 138 firms including 62 retailers showed that both volume of retail sales and orders failed to meet expectations of growth in February, following six months of very buoyant sales
  • 30% of respondents reported that sales volumes were up on a year ago, while 29% said they were down, giving a balance of +1%, significantly below expectations (+42%) and the lowest since November 2013 (+1%)
  • The volume of orders placed upon suppliers fell (-7%), disappointing expectations of growth (+12%), but firms do anticipate a rise next month (+18%)
  • Volumes of sales for the time of year in February fell below seasonal norms (-5%), to the greatest extent since January 2014
  • Employment fell on a year ago (-21%), with a broadly similar fall in headcount expected next month (-19%)
  • Retailers still expect a moderate improvement in their business situation over the next three months.
  • The volume of internet sales rose (+47%) at a pace broadly in line with expectations (+49%)

Unemployment continues to fall

Labour Market Statistics, February 2015: ONS

Key Points for October to December 2014

  • Comparing the estimates for October to December 2014 with those for July to September 2014, employment continued to rise and unemployment continued to fall. These changes maintain the general direction of movement since late 2011/early 2012.
  • There were 1.86 million unemployed people. This was 97,000 fewer than for July to September 2014 and 486,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate was 5.7%, lower than for July to September 2014 (6.0%) and lower than for a year earlier (7.2%). The unemployment rate is the proportion of the economically active population (those in work plus those seeking and available to work) who were unemployed.
  • There were 9.05 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were out of work and not seeking or available to work (known as economically inactive). This was 22,000 more than for July to September 2014 and 6,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (the inactivity rate) was 22.3%, virtually unchanged compared with July to September 2014 and with a year earlier.
  • There were 30.90 million people in work. This was 103,000 more than for July to September 2014 and 608,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate), was 73.2%, higher than for July to September 2014 (73.0%) and for a year earlier (72.0%). The employment rate last reached 73.2% in December 2004 to February 2005 and, since comparable records began in 1971, it has never been higher.

Record Low for UK inflation

Consumer Price Inflation, January 2015

  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) grew by 0.3% in the year to January 2015, down from 0.5% in December 2014.
  • Falling prices for motor fuels and food were the main contributors to the slowdown in the rate of inflation.
  • Smaller price falls than a year ago for clothing partially offset the slowdown.

UK growth at 2.6%

Gross Domestic Product Preliminary Estimate, Q4 2014: ONS

  • GDP is estimated to have increased by 0.5% in Q4 2014 compared with growth of 0.7% in Q3 2014.
  • Output increased in two of the four main industrial groupings within the economy in Q4 2014. In order of their contribution, output increased by 0.8% in services and 1.3% in agriculture. In contrast, output decreased by 1.8% in construction and 0.1% in production.
  • GDP was 2.7% higher in Q4 2014 compared with the same quarter a year ago. GDP in 2014 as a whole was up 2.6% on 2013.
  • In Q4 2014 GDP was estimated to have been 3.4% higher than the pre-economic downturn peak of Q1 2008. From the peak in Q1 2008 to the trough in Q2 2009, the economy shrank by 6.0%.

Unemployment continues to fall

Labour Market Statistics, January 2015: ONS

Key Points for September to November 2014

  • Comparing the estimates for September to November 2014 with those for June to August 2014, employment continued to rise and unemployment continued to fall. These changes maintain the general direction of movement since late 2011/early 2012.
  • There were 1.91 million unemployed people. This was 58,000 fewer than for June to August 2014, the smallest quarterly fall since July to September 2013. Comparing September to November 2014 with a year earlier, there were 418,000 fewer unemployed people.
  • The unemployment rate was 5.8%, lower than for June to August 2014 (6.0%) and lower than for a year earlier (7.1%). The unemployment rate is the proportion of the economically active population (those in work plus those seeking and available to work) who were unemployed.
  • There were 9.09 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were out of work and not seeking or available to work (known as economically inactive). This was 66,000 more than for June to August 2014 and 41,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (the inactivity rate) was 22.4%, slightly higher than for June to August 2014 (22.2%) and for a year earlier (22.3%).
  • There were 30.80 million people in work. This was 37,000 more than for June to August 2014, the smallest quarterly increase since March to May 2013. Comparing September to November 2014 with a year earlier, there were 512,000 more people in work.
  • The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate), was 73.0%, unchanged from June to August 2014 but higher than for a year earlier (72.0%).

Inflation falls to 0.5%

Consumer Price Inflation, December 2014

  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) grew by 0.5% in the year to December 2014, down from 1.0% in November.
  • The main contributions to the fall came from the December 2013 gas and electricity price rises falling out of the calculation and the continuing drop in motor fuel prices.