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Retail sales in Great Britain: Dec 2016

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Main points

  • Estimates of the quantity bought in retail sales increased by 4.3% compared with December 2015 and fell by 1.9% compared with November 2016.
  • The largest contribution to the month-on-month fall came from non-food stores.
  • The underlying trend remains one of growth with the 3 month on 3 month movement in the quantity bought increasing by 1.2%.
  • Average store prices increased by 0.9% on the year and for all retailing excluding fuel prices increased by 0.1%; the first increase since June 2014.
  • Online sales (excluding automotive fuel) increased year-on-year by 21.3%, but fell on the month by 5.3%; accounting for approximately 15% of all retail spending.

Statistician’s comment

Commenting on today’s official retail figures, Kate Davies, ONS Senior Statistician said:

“Retailers saw a strong end to 2016 with sales in the final quarter up 5.6% on the same period last year, although the amount bought fell between November and December once the effects of Christmas are removed. There were some notably strong figures from smaller retailers, in particular butchers, who reported a significant boost in sales in the run up to Christmas.”

Things you need to know about this release

This bulletin presents estimates of the quantity bought (volume) and amount spent (value) in the retail industry for the period 27 November 2016 to 31 December 2016. Unless otherwise stated, the estimates in this release are seasonally adjusted. Estimates for December 2016 did not include “Black Friday”, however, “Cyber Monday” is covered in this reporting period. These events occurred in the corresponding periods in 2015.

The Retail Sales Index (RSI) measures the value and volume of retail sales in Great Britain on a monthly basis. Data are collected from businesses in the retail industry and the survey’s results are used to produce seasonally adjusted monthly, quarterly and annual estimates of output in the retail industry at current price and at chained volume measures (removing the effect of inflation). Unless otherwise stated all estimates included in this release are based on seasonally adjusted data. 

The RSI is a key economic indicator and one of the earliest short-term measures of economic activity. It is used in the compilation of the national accounts and widely used by private and public sector institutions, particularly by the Bank of England and Her Majesty’s Treasury to assist in informed decision and policy making. 

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Source: Office for National Statistics licensed under the Open Government Licence v.1.0.

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