UK retail sales volumes experienced a significant rebound of 3.4% in January 2024, following a decline of 3.3% in the previous month, according to the Office for National Statistics retail sales index figures. 

The increase in sales volumes was observed across all subsectors except clothing stores.  

Sales volume for food stores increased 3.4% during the month and 0.6% over the full year – a recovery from the record fall of 3.1% in December, primarily driven by supermarket sales.  

Non-food stores, encompassing department, clothing, household, and other non-food retailers, also returned to expected levels with a 3.0% increase following a 3.9% drop in December 2023. 

The decline in December sales was partly attributed to consumers purchasing Christmas gifts earlier, taking advantage of November’s Black Friday discounts.  

Department stores and other non-food retailers, including sports equipment stores, reported sales volume increases of 5.4% and 6.2% respectively in January 2024. 

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UK retail sales volume for household goods stores saw a rise of 1.8%, mainly due to hardware store sales, while clothing stores experienced a 1.4% decline. 

Online spending values decreased by 4.1% in January 2024 compared to the previous month but showed a 1.0% increase over the year, likely influenced by inflation.  

The proportion of sales conducted online also dropped from 26.8% in December 2023 to 24.8% in January 2024. 

Despite the monthly rise, sales volumes saw a marginal decrease of 0.2% in the three months to January compared with the previous quarter, representing the smallest decrease since August 2023. 

British Retail Consortium insight director Kris Hamer stated: “There was promising news as sales volumes rose for the second time in three months, following 19 prior months of decline. This reflected rising levels of consumer confidence, as well as a boost from the January sales.  

“Categories, such as computing and cosmetics and toiletries performed well. Food sales continued to outstrip non-food sales – mainly due to higher levels of inflation on these products. Nonetheless, shoppers remained cautious as they entered the third year of the high cost of living.”