Latest data released by ONS - 19 February 2021

  • Prior +0.3%; revised to +0.4%
  • Retail sales -5.9% vs -0.8% y/y expected
  • Prior +2.9%; revised to +3.1%
  • Retail sales (ex autos, fuel) -8.8% vs -2.1% m/m expected
  • Prior +0.4%
  • Retail sales (ex autos, fuel) -3.8% vs +2.7% y/y expected
  • Prior +6.4%; revised to +6.7%

Slight delay in the release by the source. That is quite the miss on estimates for UK retail sales, with the monthly drop coming as tighter restrictions are implemented in January alongside receding demand on seasonal factors i.e. post-Christmas.

That isn't a good sign of consumption activity to start the year but the market is still largely more focused on vaccine optimism at this stage so that takes some of the sting off the rather dismal report here.

Looking at the details, ONS notes that all sectors saw a monthly decline in sales volume except for food stores and non-store retailers. Adding that the proportion of online spending jumped to 35.2% last month, its highest on record.

In the overall picture, retail sales volumes are still 5.5% lower than pre-pandemic levels and that highlights the impact brought about by the recent restrictions imposed.