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ONS: Retail Sales Fell In April

Jason Batterham / Shutterstock / 671551474

The ONS has published retail sales data for April covering the period 31 March 2024 to 27 April 2024.

Main points:

  • Sales volumes fell by 2.3% during April 2024 following a broadly flat February and March 2024. Over the year to April 2024, volumes fell by 2.7%, and were 3.8% below their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic level in February 2020.

  • More broadly, there was a 0.7% rise in the three months to April 2024 when compared with the three months to January 2024, mainly because of an exceptionally poor December 2023.

  • Retail sales volumes (quantity bought) fell by 2.3% in April 2024, following a fall of 0.2% in March 2024 (revised from 0.0%).

  • Sales volumes fell across most sectors, with clothing retailers, sports equipment, games and toys stores, and furniture stores doing badly as poor weather reduced footfall.

  • More broadly, sales volumes rose by 0.7% in the three months to April 2024 when compared with the previous three months, following a poor December 2023, and fell by 0.8% when compared with the three months to April 2023.
  • Non-food stores sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) fell by 4.1% in April 2024. This was the joint largest fall (shared with December 2023) since January 2021. Within non-food, falls were strongest within clothing retailers, sports equipment, games and toys stores, and furniture stores, with retailers reporting poor weather and low footfall as the main reasons.

  • Automotive fuel sales volumes showed their largest monthly fall since October 2021, while food stores sales volumes fell for their third consecutive month, mainly because of supermarkets. Retailers reported cost of living and the impact of rising fuel prices as factors; see GOV.UK's Weekly road fuel prices tables.

  • This is consistent with national retail footfall data from our Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators bulletin, which reported footfall falling on the year. The Met Office climate summaries reported April 2024 as being a dull and wet month, receiving 155% of average rainfall and just 79% of average sunshine hours.

  • The amount spent online, known as online spending values, fell by 1.2% during April 2024, and by 1.5% over the year.

  • As total spend showed a greater fall during the month (2.6%), the proportion of sales made online increased from 26.2% in March 2024 (revised from 25.9%) to 26.5% in April 2024.


Responding to the latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures, which showed sales down 1.5% by value, and down 3.0% by volume, Kris Hamer, Director of Insight at the British Retail Consortium, said:

“Sales volumes saw significant decline in April, falling for the third time in five months as the gloomy, wet weather combined with the cost of living squeeze dampened spending. Cosmetics continued to sell well, and computer sales were boosted thanks to promotional activity and consumers upgrading their tech a few years after the pandemic surge in tech sales. Meanwhile, clothing and footwear and furniture failed to deliver due to the poor weather and consumers thinking twice before buying high ticket items. 

“With summer around the corner, and inflation fast approaching the Bank of England’s 2% target, retailers are hopeful that consumer confidence will improve, and spending will pick up once again. Retail is crucial to healthy local economies, and if the next Government wants to boost growth and jobs in left behind regions, it must help unlock retail investment right across the country. With a General Election fast approaching, political parties must ensure their manifestos detail how they will support retail, the three million people it employs, and the 60 million people it serves.” 

Source : ONS, BRC

Jason Batterham / Shutterstock / 671551474

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29 May 2024

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