Retail sales see first increase in two months

Retail sales increased by 0.8% in February this year compared with the previous month, with increases seen across all main sectors except non-food stores.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the first uptick after two monthly declines in December and January, resulting in an overall decrease of 0.4% in the three months to February.

The year-on-year growth rate was 1.5%, which represented a general slowdown when compared with the increase of 3.3% seen in February 2017. However, this stabilised in recent months as there was little movement in the year-on-year growth since November 2017.

Prices rose across all sectors and there was a slowdown to growth in the last two months, falling from 3.1% in December to 2.5% in February.

Online sales rose as a proportion of all seasonally adjusted retailing in February when compared with January, accounting for 17.2% of all retail. This continued a general upward trend in money spent online: the proportion of online spending in February 2017 was 15.6%.

ONS senior statistician, Rhian Murphy said: “Retail sales did grow in February, with increases seen in food, non-store and fuel, but this followed two months of declines in these sectors. However, the underlying three-month picture is one of falling sales, mainly due to strong declines across all sectors in December.”

She added: “Store prices continue to rise across all store types, but at a lower rate than the previous month due to a slowdown in price growth, though clothing and household goods stores continued to see stronger price rises.”

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