Follow us

UK retail sales remain flat in February despite poor weather boosting online spending
22 March 2024

Retail sales volumes were flat in February, in part due to the bad weather, despite a boost in online spending, according to new data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said sales growth hit 0.0% in February, down from growth of 3.6% in January, a figure which had been revised up by 0.2 percentage points.

The ONS said a "mild but wet" month where southern England saw its wettest February on record had helped to weigh on sales.

Food shops saw their sales drop by 0.3% during the month, with those who responded to the ONS survey blaming the weather for reducing the number of people visiting the shops.

A fall in fuel sales was blamed on higher prices and were enough to offset the rise in sales volumes at department stores.

Overall, non-food stores saw their sales volumes increase by 1.7% during the months. Meanwhile, the amount spent online, lifted 2.1% during the month, the largest single rise since July 2023, when poor weather was also to thank.

"Retail sales were flat in February," said ONS Senior Statistician, Heather Bovill.

"Many shops told us that the wet weather hit in-store sales, with online instead seeing a boost."

Lisa Hooker, Leader of Industry for Consumer Markets at the PwC consultancy, added: "Little surprise that retail sales were unable to continue the momentum of the apparent bounceback witnessed in January’s numbers following a lacklustre Christmas.

"Overall, February’s retail sales figures confirm that, despite falling inflation, a 2% cut in national insurance at the start of 2024, and improving consumer confidence in their personal finances, shoppers are still hesitant to part with their hard-earned cash.

"With inflation forecast to fall to the Bank of England’s 2% target in April, in addition to a 9.8% rise in national living wage and a further 2% cut to national insurance, retailers will be hoping that the spring brings green shoots after a challenging last 18 months."

Free NewsletterVISIT