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Economic Data

Welcome to the ‘Economic Data’ section of Insight DIY, which includes a summary of all of the key UK economic indicators that you may need to know within your business. Each of these key indicators are updated as and when they are released by their various sources and provide a really valuable addition to any monthly report or business overview.

ONS UK Retail Sales

Retail Sales

Main points:

The ONS has reported on retail sales for the five-week period 24 November 2019 to 28 December 2019:

  • In the three months to December 2019, the quantity bought in retail sales decreased by 1.0% when compared with the previous three months.

  • All sectors except household goods stores and fuel saw a decline in the quantity bought for the three-month on three-month movement; driven mainly by non-food stores at negative 1.0%.

  • The quantity bought in December 2019 fell by 0.6% when compared with the previous month; the fifth consecutive month of no growth.

  • The quantity bought in food stores fell by 1.3% for the monthly growth rate, which was the largest fall since December 2016, also at 1.3%.

  • Comparing the three months to December 2019 against the same three months a year ago, growth in the quantity bought increased by 1.6% in December 2019, despite a strong decline of 2.2% for department stores.

Online Sales

  • Online sales as a proportion of all retailing was 19.0% in December 2019, compared with the 18.6% reported in November 2019.  

Period: December 2019
Publication Date: 17th January 2020
Next Release Date: 20th February 2020

Unless otherwise stated, the estimates in this release are seasonally adjusted.

Source: Office for National Statistics

BRC - KPMG Retail Sales Monitor

Retail Sales image

Covering the five weeks  24 November – 28 December 2019

 

  • On a Total basis, sales increased by 1.9% in December, against a flat 0.0% in December 2018.
  • Looking at the year-on-year change over November and December together to iron out the Black Friday distortions, sales declined 0.9%, which is worse than both the 3m and 12m average declines of 0.4% and 0.1% respectively.
  • UK retail sales increased by 1.7% on a Like-for-like basis from December 2018, when they had decreased 0.7% from the preceding year.
  • This is positively distorted by the timing of Black Friday, included in December 2019 but not 2018, and therefore higher than both the 3m and 12m averages of -0.9% and 0.5% respectively.
  • Over the three months to December, In-store sales of Non-Food items declined 3.5% on a Total and 3.8% on a Like-for-like basis. This is worse than the 12-month Total average decline of 3.1%.
  • Over the three months to December, Food sales were a flat 0.0% on a Like-for-like basis and increased 0.7% on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 1.4%.
  • Over the three-months to December, Non-Food retail sales in the UK decreased by 1.6% on a like-for-like and 1.4% on a Total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average decrease of 1.3%. For the month of December, Non-Food was in growth year-on-year but positively distorted by the timing of Black Friday.
  • Online Non-Food sales increased by 12.8% in December, against a growth of 5.8% in December 2018.
  • Looking at November and December together to iron out the Black Friday distortions, sales increased 2.6%, which is lower than the 12m average of 3.3%.
  • Non-Food Online penetration rate increased from 31.2% in December 2018 to 34.5% this December. 

Over the two months of November and December, the Online penetration rate was 34.2% for 2019, against 32.4% for 2018, a 1.8 percentage points increase. Applying this to November, it points to a peak Online penetration rate of 35.8% in November 2019.

Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail | KPMG

“At first glance retailers’ relentlessness paid off in December, with total sales up 1.9%. However, the later timing of Black Friday will have skewed the outcome. If looking at November and December combined, sales actually declined by 0.9%.

“Consumers clearly favoured logging on to walking in, with online sales up 12.8% in December. However, if taking a two month average, growth online was clearly muted at only 2.6.%.

“Grocery is usually a winner during the festive season, although it is important to highlight that growth has been weakening recently and for many players Christmas did not deliver the results it has in the past.

“All growth will be welcome, although the true performance of Christmas trading is still to be determined. The cost of customer returns must not be overlooked. That’s especially true as online fulfilment already costs retailers a pretty penny. Christmas trading reports will likely be mixed, but those that have truly performed well will have managed margin and costs well over both the Christmas period and beyond.”

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive | British Retail Consortium

“2019 was the worst year on record and the first year to show an overall decline in retail sales. This was also reflected in the CVAs, shop closures and job losses that the industry suffered in 2019. Twice the UK faced the prospect of a no deal Brexit, as well as political instability that concluded in a December General Election - further weakening demand for the festive period. The industry continues to transform in response to the changing technologies and shopping habits. Black Friday overtook Christmas as the biggest shopping week of the year for non-food items. Retailers also faced challenges as consumers became both more cautious and more conscientious as they went about their Christmas shopping.   

“Looking forward, the public’s confidence in Britain’s trade negotiations will have a big impact on spending over the coming year. There are many ongoing challenges for retailers: to drive up productivity, continue to raise wages, improve recyclability of products and cut waste. However, this takes resources, so it is essential the new Government makes good on its promise to review, and then reform the broken business rates system which sees retail pay 25% of all business rates, while accounting for 5% of the economy.”

Food & Drink sector performance | Susan Barratt, CEO | IGD

“December’s food and grocery sales ended 2019 on a downbeat note. Despite the influence of some inflation across the market, shopper spending was not as expected for such a key sales period. As a result, while the value of spending wasn’t down, growth was negligible and volumes declined - a rarity for Christmas in recent times.

“Despite their financial confidence remaining subdued, shoppers appear to be a little bit more optimistic for 2020. Fewer expect food prices to be more expensive, with 75% of shoppers taking this view compared with 78% in November. This is also first time since June’18 that just as many shoppers predict they will focus more on quality as saving money in the year ahead when food and grocery shopping (18%). With healthy options one of the top ways shoppers define products as higher quality, retailers and suppliers have an opportunity to engage with shoppers looking to improve their diets this month. As health remains the biggest driver for following a vegan or vegetarian diet we anticipate the plant-based trend to continue to gain traction.”

Release Date:  4th January 2020
Next Release Date: 5th February 2020

Source: BRC

Nationwide House Price Index

House Prices

December Monthly Index*: 431.9 (November 2019: 431.3) 
Monthly Change*: +0.5% (November 2019: +0.1%)
Annual Change to December: +1.4% (November: 2019: +0.8%)
December Average Price: £215,282 (November 2019: £215,734) (not seasonally adjusted) 

* Seasonally adjusted figure (note that monthly % changes are revised when seasonal adjustment factors are re-estimated)

Key Findings

  • Prices rose 0.1% in December, after taking account of seasonal factors
  • Annual price declines persist in London and the Outer South East 
  • Raising a deposit remains key challenge for prospective first time buyers

Commenting on the figures, Robert Gardner, Nationwide's Chief Economist, said: 

Commenting on the figures, Robert Gardner, Nationwide's Chief Economist, said: “Annual UK house price growth edged up as 2019 drew to a close, with prices 1.4% higher than December 2018, the first time it been above 1% for 12 months.

“Indicators of UK economic activity were fairly volatile for much of 2019, but the underlying pace of growth appeared to slow through the year as a result of weaker global growth and an intensification of Brexit uncertainty.

“The underlying pace of housing market activity remained broadly stable, with the number of mortgages approved for house purchase continuing within the fairly narrow range prevailing over the past two years. Healthy labour market conditions and low borrowing costs appear to have offset the drag from the uncertain economic outlook.

“Looking ahead, economic developments will remain the key driver of housing market trends and house prices. Much will continue to depend on how quickly uncertainty about the UK’s future trading relationships lifts as well as the outlook for global growth.

“Overall, we expect the economy to continue to expand at a modest pace in 2020, with house prices remaining broadly flat over the next twelve months.

Source: Nationwide House Price Index

Release Date: 3rd January 2020
Next Release Date: 3rd February 2020

Nationwide is the world's largest building society and one of the UK's largest mortgage providers. It has the longest unbroken run of house price data, stretching back to 1952 on a quarterly basis and 1991 on a monthly basis.  

UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (Markit and CIPS)

Markit IHS 150 x 112.jpg

Index: 44.4 December 2019
Previous month: 45.3 November 2019

Key findings:

  • Sharpest fall in civil engineering activity since March 2009
  • New business decreases for the ninth month in a row
  • Input cost inflation eases to its lowest since February 2010

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) Construction Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) is a diffusion index incorporating survey results provided by construction firms throughout the country. A reading above fifty suggests the construction sector is expanding, while a reading below fifty suggests the construction sector is in contraction. Policymakers and traders watch these surveys closely as purchasing managers usually have early access to data about their company’s performance, rather than waiting for the hard data to emerge.

Publication date: 3rd January 2020
Next publication date: 3rd February 2020

Source: Markit Economics

UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (Markit and CIPS)

Markit IHS 150 x 112.jpg

Index: 47.5 - December 2019
Previous month: 48.9 - November 2019

UK manufacturing output contracts at fastest pace in almost seven-and-a-half years

Key findings:

  • UK Manufacturing PMI at 47.5 in December (Flash: 47.4)
  • Output, new orders and new export orders fall sharply 
  • Job losses reported for ninth straight month

Publication date: 2nd January 2020
Next publication date: 3rd February 2020

Source: Markit Economics

NHBC - New Build Statistics/New Registrations

NHBC logo 150 x 112

Most Recent Monthly Data 

Total Registrations November 2019: 16,175
Total Registrations November 2018: 15,158
Percentage change: +7%

Private Sector November 2019: 10,662
Private Sector November 2018: 11,036

Affordable and Rental Sector November 2019: 5,513
Affordable and Rental Sector November 2018: 4,122

Rolling Quarter Data

Total Registrations (Rolling Qtr September to November 2019): 44,361
Total Registrations (Rolling Qtr September to November 2018): 43,655
Percentage Change: +2%

Private Sector Registrations (Rolling Qtr September to November 2019): 30,416
Private Sector Registrations (Rolling Qtr September 2018 to November 2018): 33,110
Percentage Change: -7%

Affordable and Rental Sector Registrations (Rolling Qtr September to November 2019): 13,945
Affordable and Rental Sector Registrations (Rolling Qtr September to November 2018): 10,918
Percentage Change: +28%

Commenting on the latest figures, NHBC Chief Executive Steve Wood said: “As we near the end of the year, it is good to report resilience in new home numbers, which should give some confidence going into the New Year.

“As ever, construction quality is central to everything NHBC does. We will keep working with the sector to help improve new home quality for the benefit of consumers.”

Release Date: 28th December 2019
Next Release: 31st January 2020

Source: NHBC

NHBC is the leading warranty and insurance provider for new homes in the UK and its registration statistics are a lead indicator for the new homes market.

GfK Consumer Confidence Index

GfK 150 x 112

Monthly Index: -11
Previous Month's Index: -14
Monthly Index Previous Year: -14
Period: December 2019

Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director at GfK, says: 

"There’s a clear sense of a change in consumer sentiment this month. The picture for the year to come is much stronger with a two-point improvement in how consumers view their personal financial prospects and a very healthy seven-point jump on how they see the wider economy next year. 

"We haven’t seen such a robust increase in confidence about our economic future since the summer of 2016. Despite official warning signs about the flat-lining of Britain’s economy, we know that record high employment and below target levels of inflation are helping to boost consumers’ expectations for the year ahead. Importantly, for the retail sector, we also have an upwards revision in our Major Purchase Index, a key figure during the remaining shopping days of 2019. 

"The Overall Index Score has failed to break into positive territory for the past four years due to confusion and uncertainty about the future direction of the UK. A great many people will be gazing into their crystal balls right now; ours indicates a rebound in confidence in 2020 based on renewed optimism and energy for a post-Brexit Britain.”

UK Consumer Confidence Measures – December 2019

The Overall Index Score in December 2019 is -11. Four measures increased, and one measure decreased this month.

Personal Financial Situation 

The index measuring changes in personal finances during the last 12 months has decreased by three points this month to -3; this is two points lower than December 2018.

The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months has increased two points to +3 this month; this is four points higher than December 2018.

General Economic Situation 

The measure for the general economic situation of the country during the last 12 months has increased three points this month to -31; this is the same as December 2018.

Expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months have increased seven points to -27; this is 11 points higher than December 2018.

Major Purchase Index 

The Major Purchase Index increased three points in December to +3; this is one point higher than December 2018.

Savings Index 

The Savings Index is unchanged in December at +18; this is two points higher than at this time last year.

Release Date: 20th December 2019
Next Release Date: 31st January 2020

Source: GfK

Bank of England: Bank Rate

Bank of England logo 150 x 112.jpg

Current bank rate: 0.75%
Previous bank rate: 0.75%

Release date:  19th December 2019
Next release date: 30th January 2020

Source : Bank of England

UK Consumer Price Index (CPI)

CPIH image

Main points for November 2019:

  • The Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was 1.5% in November 2019, unchanged from October 2019.

  • The largest contribution to the CPIH 12-month inflation rate in November 2019 came from housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (+0.36 percentage points).

  • The largest downward contributions to change in the CPIH 12-month inflation rate between October and November 2019 came from accommodation services and tobacco.

  • The largest offsetting upward contributions came from food, and recreation and culture, where prices rose this year by more than a year ago.

  • The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 1.5% in November 2019, unchanged from October 2019.

Release Date: 18th December 2019
Next Release: 15th January 2020

Price indices, percentage changes and weights for the different measures of consumer price inflation. 

Source: Office for National Statistics

UK Producer Price Inflation (PPI)

Producer Price Index

Main points for November 2019: 

  • The headline rate of output inflation for goods leaving the factory gate was 0.5% on the year to November 2019, down from 0.8% in October 2019.

  • The growth rate of prices for materials and fuels used in the manufacturing process was negative 2.7% on the year to November 2019, up from negative 5.0% in October 2019.

  • Tobacco and alcohol made the largest downward contribution to the change in the annual rate of output inflation.

  • Crude oil provided the largest upward contribution to the change in the annual rate of input inflation.

Release Date: 18th December 2019
Next Release: 15th January 2020

Source: Office for National Statistics

UK Labour Market

Unemployment office

Unemployment rate: 3.8% (August to October 2019)
Previous rolling quarter: 3.8% (July to September 2019)

Main points (August to October 2019) 

  • The UK employment rate was estimated at 76.2%, 0.4 percentage points higher than a year earlier but little changed on the previous quarter; despite just reaching a new record high, the employment rate has been broadly flat over the last few quarters.

  • The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.8%, 0.3 percentage points lower than a year earlier but largely unchanged on the previous quarter.

  • The UK economic inactivity rate was estimated at 20.8%, 0.2 percentage points lower than a year earlier but largely unchanged on the previous quarter.

  • Estimated annual growth in average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain slowed to 3.2% for total pay (including bonuses) and 3.5% for regular pay (excluding bonuses); the annual growth in total pay was weakened by unusually high bonus payments paid in October 2018 compared with more typical average bonus payments paid in October 2019.

  • In real terms (after adjusting for inflation), annual growth in total pay is estimated to be 1.5%, and annual growth in regular pay is estimated to be 1.8%.

  • There were an estimated 794,000 vacancies in the UK for September to November 2019; 20,000 fewer than last quarter and 59,000 fewer than a year earlier.

Publication date: 17th December 2019
Next publication date: 21st January 2020

The level and rate of UK unemployment measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) using a definition of unemployment specified by the International Labour Organisation. Unemployed people as those without a job who have been actively seeking work in the past 4 weeks and are available to start work in the next 2 weeks. It also includes those who are out of work but have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next 2 weeks.

Source: Office for National Statistics

UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Gross Domestic Product

Main points

- UK GDP was flat in the three months to October 2019

- The services sector was the main driver to GDP growth in the three months to October 2019

- Rolling three-month growth was 0.0% in the three months to October 2019

- GDP was flat in October 2019

- The services sector grew by 0.2% in the three months to October 2019

- The production sector fell by 0.7% in the three months to October 2019Output in the construction industry fell by 0.3% in the three months to October 2019

Release Date: 10th December 2019
Next Release Date: 13th January 2020

Preliminary, second and final estimates of GDP released over a quarter as more data becomes available. The final estimate is published in the Quarterly National Accounts. GDP is the main measure of UK economic growth based on the value of goods and services produced during a given period.

Source: Office for National Statistics

UK Population Figures

UK Census

UK population: 66,436,000 (mid 2018)
UK population: 66,040,229 (mid 2017)
Percentage change: +0.6%

2018 Data:

Male: 32.8 million (49.4%)
Female: 33.6 million (50.6%)

Estimated population of England: 55,977,000 (84.3% of the UK’s population)
Estimated population of Scotland: 5,438,000 (8.2% of the UK’s population)
Estimated population of Wales: 3,139,000 (4.7% of the UK’s population)
Estimated population of Northern Ireland: 1,882,000 (2.8% of the UK’s population)

Mid-year population estimates relate to the usually resident population. They account for long-term international migrants (people who change their country of usual residence for a period of 12 months or more) but do not account for short-term migrants (people who come to or leave the country for a period of less than 12 months). This approach is consistent with the standard UN definition for population estimates which is based upon the concept of usual residence and includes people who reside, or intend to reside, in the country for at least twelve months, whatever their nationality.

Data last updated: June 2019
Next update: June 2020

Source: ONS

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Insight provides a host of information I need on many of our company’s largest customers. I use this information regularly with my team, both at a local level as well as with our other international operations. It’s extremely useful when sharing market intelligence information with our corporate office.

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Paul Boyce - European CEO, QEP Ltd.
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