UK retail sales rise in February but values fail to match inflation
British retail sales volumes rose 1.2% in February compared to January, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed on Friday. That was higher than analysts had expected, although volumes were down 3.% compared to a year ago.
That’s perhaps no surprise given recent figures showing inflation surged even higher last month.
And the impact of inflation really had to be taken into account with the value of February’s retail sales up 5.5% year on year and up only 1.6% compared to January showing that value increases aren't keeping up with inflation. It’s clear that even though volumes are rising, retailers are absorbing some of the higher costs they’re seeing rather than passing them on to consumers in price rises.
Total non-food store sales volumes (including department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) rose by 2.4% compared to January but fell 1.7% compared to February 2022.
Within non-food, department store sales volumes rose by 5.5% on the month, while clothing stores rose by 2.9%. Growth in both sub-sectors was because of strong sales at discount stores.
Online spending by value rose 2.6% against the month before but dropped 3.5% year on year. That said, clothing and footwear stores saw their value sales rising 4.3% year on year, although they were up only 0.4% month on month.
The ONS said the proportion of online sales last month was 25.4%, which is higher than pre-pandemic (it was 19.8% in February 2020).
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