Total UK retail sales have grown by just 1.2% year on year (YoY) in January 2024, down from the 4.2% growth seen in January 2023, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). 

The slowdown in retail sales growth comes as the cost of living crisis enters its third year. 

Retail sales were below the three-month and 12-month average growth of 1.9% and 3.4% respectively. 

During the four weeks from 31 December 2023 to 27 January 2024, food sales in the UK rose by 6.3%, but the figure is still below the robust 8.0% growth experienced in January 2023 and the 12-month average of 8.1%.  

Non-food sales experienced a decline, with a 1.8% decrease over the three months to January. This contrasts with a 2.9% increase in January 2023.  

The decline is more pronounced than the modest 12-month average decrease of 0.5%.  

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In-store non-food sales also fell by 1.5% YoY over the three months to January, a significant drop from the 7.2% growth seen in January 2023 and below the 12-month average growth of 0.8%.  

Online non-food sales have not fared any better, with a 4.2% YoY decrease in January, exceeding the declines recorded in both the three-month and 12-month periods.  

The penetration rate for non-food items bought online fell to 35% in January from 35.4% in January 2023. 

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Easing inflation and weak consumer demand have led retail sales growth to slow. While the January sales helped to boost spending in the first two weeks, this did not sustain throughout the month.  

“With the Spring Budget in sight, and a general election looming, the government cannot afford to ignore the needs of retailers and their customers. Employing three million people and supporting families and communities in every corner of the country, retail is the ‘everywhere economy’.”