Last updated: 8 February 2018

In the latest three months the quantity bought in retail sales increased by 0.4% compared with the previous three months; while the underlying pattern remains one of growth, this is the weakest quarterly growth since the decline of 1.2% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017.

On the month, the quantity bought decreased by 1.5% when compared with strong sales in November 2017.

In December 2017, the quantity bought increased by 1.4% when compared with December 2016, with positive contributions from all stores except food stores.

For the whole of 2017, the quantity bought in retail sales increased by 1.9%; the lowest annual growth since 2013.

In non-seasonally adjusted terms, shopping for Christmas has shifted in recent years from being mainly in December to more in November as consumers seem to be starting their purchasing earlier in line with Black Friday promotions.

Internet sales continued to increase when compared with previous years, with physical stores dominating online sales growth in December.

Retail sales

Sales by retailers in Great Britain directly to end consumers, including spending on goods (in store and online) (Retail Sales Index) and spending on services (Index of Services). The industry as a whole is used as an indicator of how the wider economy is performing and the strength of consumer spending.

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.