Retail sales growth

Retail Sales, February 2014: ONS

  • Year-on-year estimates of the quantity bought in the retail industry continued to show growth. In February 2014, the quantity bought increased by 3.7% compared with February 2013.
  • The three month on previous three month movement in the quantity bought showed continued growth for the twelfth consecutive period increasing by 1.6%.  This has been the longest period of sustained growth since November 2007.
  • The average prices of goods sold showed deflation of 0.2% with fuel providing the greatest contribution to this at 4.4%. The last time store price deflation occurred was September 2009 (0.8%) when fuel was again the main contributor at 5.8%.
  • In February 2014, the amount spent in the retail industry increased by 3.5% compared with February 2013 and by 1.3% compared with January 2014.  Non seasonally adjusted data show that the average weekly spend in the retail industry in February 2014 was £6.6 billion compared with £6.3 billion in February 2013 and £6.4 billion in January 2014.
  • The amount spent online increased by 12.4% in February 2014 compared with February 2013 and by 2.5% compared with January 2014.

Inflation rate falls

Consumer Price Inflation, February 2014: ONS

  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) grew by 1.7% in the year to February 2014, down from 1.9% in January
  • The largest contribution to the fall in the rate came from transport (principally motor fuels) with other smaller downward effects from the housing & household services and clothing & footwear sectors.
  • These were partially offset by upward contributions from furniture & household goods and recreation & culture.
  • CPIH grew by 1.6% in the year to February 2014, down from 1.8% in January. CPIH is a measure of UK consumer price inflation that includes owner occupiers’ housing costs
  • RPIJ grew by 2.0%, down from 2.1% in January. RPI is a long-standing measure of UK inflation that has historically been used for a wide rangeof purposes such as the indexation of pensions, rents and index-linked gilts.

Unemployment falls

Labour Market Statistics, Mar 2014: ONS

  • The number of unemployed people fell by 63,000 on the quarter and by 191,000 on the year to reach 2.33 million for November 2013 to January 2014
  • Unemployment rate was 7.2% of the labour force (those unemployed plus those employed) for November 2013 to January 2014, down from 7.4% for August to October 2013 and from 7.8% the previous year
  • The number of people in employment increased by 105,000 on the quarter and by 459,000 on the year to reach 30.19 million for November 2013 to January 2014. Employment rate was 72.3% (for people aged from 16 to 64) for November 2013 to January 2014, up from 72.0% for August to October 2013 and from 71.5% the previous year
  • The increase in employment between August to October 2013 and November 2013 to January 2014 was due to more self-employed people; the number of employees fell over this period

Dip in footfall

Dip in footfall: BRC

  • Footfall in February was 2.9% lower than a year ago, down on the 1.6% rise in January and below the three-month average of -1.1%.
  • High streets reported the greatest fall, down 5.3%, which is the largest drop since March 2013
  • Footfall in out-of-town locations experienced a rise of 2.3% while shopping centres fell by 2.4%

European inflation down

European inflation, Feb 2014: Eurostat

  • Euro area annual inflation was 0.7% in February 2014 , down from 0.8% in January
  • A year earlier the rate was 1.8%.
  • Monthly inflation was 0.3% in February 2014
  • European Union annual inflation was 0.8% in February 2014, down from 0.9% in January.
  • A year earlier the rate was 2.0%. Monthly inflation was 0.3% in February 2014

Online retail sales

Online Retail Sales Monitor: BRC

  • Online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 14.3% in February versus a year earlier.
  • In February 2013, they had increased by 12.3% over the previous year.
  • In February, online sales represented 17.5% of total Non-Food sales of our Monitor, against 15.4% in February 2013.
  • Online sales contributed 2.1 percentage points to the growth of Non-Food total sales. Excluding online, Non-Food store sales would have been down in February: half of the categories – Clothing, Footwear and Other Non-Food – would have shown a decline.

Upgraded growth forecast from BCC

Upgraded growth forecast from BCC

  • The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has upgraded its growth forecasts for the next two years – from 2.7% to 2.8% in 2014 and from 2.4% to 2.5% in 2015.
  • UK GDP expected to exceed  its pre-recession peak in Q2 2014 – one quarter earlier than forecast in December
  • UK GDP quarterly growth is forecast at 0.7% in Q1 2014, easing slightly to 0.6% in Q2 2014, before averaging 0.6% per quarter until the end of 2016.
  • The first increase in UK interest rates expected in Q3 2015 to 0.75%
  • Wage growth predicted to exceed inflation from mid-2014
  • The youth unemployment rate is expected to remain almost three times the national average over the forecast period (2014 – 2016)
  • Unemployment rate expected to fall from 7.2% in Q4 2013 to 6.0% in Q4 2016
  • Growth in 2016 expected to be 2.5%.