Retail Sales figures

Retail sales - last updated: February 2021

In December 2020, retail sales volumes increased by 0.3% following a 4.1% fall in NovemberIn December 2020, retail sales volumes increased by 0.3% when compared with November 2020, resulting in an increase of 2.7% when compared with February's pre-lockdown level.

Clothing stores reported strong monthly growth of 21.5%, rebounding from a large fall in November 2020 when stores were closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. The year-on-year growth rate in the volume of retail sales increased by 2.9% when compared with December 2019; non-store retailers reported the largest year-on-year growth at 43.5% while food stores also saw strong annual growth of 4.4%.

In 2020 as a whole, estimates of the quantity bought decreased by 1.9% when compared with 2019, the largest year-on-year fall on record. Clothing stores (negative 25.1%), fuel stores (negative 22.2%), "other stores" (negative 11.6%) and department stores (negative 5.2%) all recorded record annual declines in sales volumes in 2020 when compared with 2019, non-store retailing, however, saw a record annual increase of 32.0% for 2020.

Total online retailing values increased by 46.1% in 2020 when compared with 2019, the highest annual growth reported since 2008. Food stores (79.3%), "other stores" (73.9%), household goods stores (73.4%) and department stores (65.9%) all recorded record annual increases in values of internet sales in 2020 when compared with 2019.


Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is the main indicator of economic performance. There are three approaches used to measure GDP; the output approach, the expenditure approach and the income approach. GDP per head is calculated by dividing GDP in chained volume measures by the population estimates and projections. It is not a measure of productivity or well-being, but is a useful statistic as it removes the impact of the changing size of the population from headline GDP figures.