Retail Sales

Hard times for small retailers

Retail Sales, January 2013: ONS

  • In January 2013, year-on-year seasonally adjusted estimates of the quantity bought in the retail sector fell by 0.6%, putting a halt to the year-on-year growth seen in the retail sector since August 2011.
  • Year-on-year estimates (non-seasonally adjusted) showed an overall fall in the quantity bought in small stores, in particular those with 0-9 employees, while large stores saw an increase. This was particularly marked in the food sector with feedback from small retailers suggesting that the heavy snow fall in the latter half of January affected sales. In contrast, feedback from large store retailers suggested that some of the increase in the quantity bought came from a rise in online shopping.
  • The quantity bought in the food sector was estimated to have fallen 2.6% year-on-year (seasonally adjusted), to the lowest level since April 2004, providing the most downward pressure to the fall in the total quantity bought in the retail sector.
  • In the food sector, the proportion of sales made online rose by 27.1% (non-seasonally adjusted) compared with January 2012, which equates to 3.7% of all food sector sales, the highest on record.
  • This January, the overall proportion of non-seasonally adjusted online sales remained above the 10% mark, normally seen during the lead up to Christmas, which was 8.7% higher compared with January 2012.
  • Looking at the monthly picture, (January 2013 compared with December 2012) both the seasonally adjusted quantity bought and the amount spent in the retail sector were estimated to have fallen by 0.6% and 0.4% respectively.
  • The amount spent in the retail sector was unchanged in January 2013 compared with January 2012. Sales at petrol stations provided the main source of downward pressure to the amount spent in the retail sector. When sales at these stores are excluded the amount spent increased by 1.2%.
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