Retail sales volumes fell by 0.4% in November, ONS reports

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures on retail sales in Great Britain in November 2022.

Retail sales volumes are estimated to have fallen by 0.4% in November, following a rise of 0.9% in October 2022 (revised from a rise of 0.6%).

Retail sales values, unadjusted for price changes, rose by 0.5% in November 2022, following a rise of 1.7% in October 2022. When compared with the pre-Covid-19 level in February 2020, total retail sales were 14.8% higher in value terms, but volumes were 0.7% lower.

Non-store retailing (predominantly online retailers) sales volumes fell by 2.8% in November 2022, continuing a downward trend seen since early 2021, as the wider economy reopened and people could return to shopping in-store. They are still 18.2% higher than their pre-Covid-19 February 2020 levels.

Compared with the same period a year earlier, retail sales volumes fell by 6.2% in the three months to November 2022, while sales values rose by 4.4%.

Online spending values rose by 0.6% in November 2022, because of monthly increases across all industries except other non-food stores.

The value of online spending increased at a similar rate to retail sales as a whole, so the proportion of online sales remained unchanged at 26.2% in November 2022. The proportion of retail sales online has remained broadly consistent at around 26.0% since May 2022.

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Responding to the latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Sales growth failed to keep pace with inflation as sales volumes dropped for the eighth month in a row. Black Friday provided a small boost to retailers, but there are signs that many consumers are holding off Christmas spending until the last moment.

“Retailers may be slightly reassured by the marginal improvement in consumer confidence, but it remains well below levels seen even at the height of the pandemic due to the ongoing cost of living squeeze. There was stronger growth for furniture, floors and textiles, as households chose to concentrate on improving the home ahead of Christmas. But, many retailers will be holding their breath as they look to the hugely important December sales period.

“Given the pressure currently bearing down on the retail industry from higher energy and input costs, it is vital Government provides support for retailers as it puts in place future arrangements for the EBRS from April 2023. Without clear targeted support, retailers will see their costs – and potentially prices – climb even higher.”

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