Customers stock up on Christmas food as overall retail sales down

16th December 2022 | Jack Oliver

Retail sales volumes (quantity bought) are estimated to have fallen by 0.4% in November, following a rise of 0.9% in October, which is believed to have been skewed by a bounce back from the Queen’s funeral in September.

Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) also revealed that non-store retailing (predominantly online) sales fell by 2.8%, continuing a downward trend seen since early 2021.

However, food store sales volumes saw an increase of 0.9%, suggesting that consumers were stocking up for Christmas to help spread the costs. Despite this, these levels were still 2.9% below pre-Pandemic numbers.

Compared with the same period in 2021, retail sales volumes fell by 6.2% in the three months to November 2022.

These figures suggest that the impact of Black Friday was less than anticipated for retailers, as many consumers struggle with a cost-of-living crisis which sees spending power pacified.

The above figures from the ONS shows how on a seasonally-adjusted basis, sales volumes continue to decline.

This method is used to offset the skew from the annual spike in sales at Christmastime which can misrepresent trends in retail sales.

Despite an increase in non-seasonally adjusted sales volumes of 11.4% in November, when adjusted, this is presented as a fall of 0.4%.

Jacqui Baker, head of retail at consultancy firm RSM, said: ‘With swathes of industrial strikes and extreme weather creating further barriers for consumers to splurge, the chance to recoup losses and offload winter stock will have been cut short in December.

“It’s likely to be a disappointing end to the year for the retail sector.”


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