ONS May Report Confirms Uptick In UK Retails Sales

UK Consumer Shopping

Earlier this month the KPMG-BRC Retail Sales Monitor delivered good news, announcing a return to double-digit growth in online sales for May and a long-awaited recovery in total UK retail sales, including in like-for-like terms.

As influential as the KPMG-BRC report is, it’s always good to get confirmation from an official source and this has now arrived in the shape of the May Retail Sales Bulletin issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Not only did May bring sunshine in the wake of April’s downpours but the UK retail sector received an additional boost from advance shopping for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Online sales growth is more or less taken for granted, the only unknown being whether the figure will come in single or double digits. But given the prolonged distress on the high street, any positive result is heartily welcome.

According to the ONS report, May e-sales generated an average £510.9m per week, which translates into year-on-year growth of 21.6%. Automotive fuel excluded, about 8.8% of UK retail sales were attributable to purchases made online during May.

Although growth was not that pronounced for high street sales, it was nevertheless good to have positive figures. In terms of value, the year-on-year increase amounted to 3.9% not counting automotive fuel, while volume rose by 3%. Viewed against the results for April, retail sales inched up by 0.8% and 0.9% in value and volume respectively.

The ONS compiles its retail sales index on the basis of data from 5,000 retailers, which account for roughly 90% of Britain’s known retail activity.