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Retail sales

The Retail Sales Index (RSI) measures the value and volume of retail sales in Great Britain on a monthly basis.

The RSI is a key economic indicator and one of the earliest short-term measures of economic activity.

It is used to estimate consumer spending on retail goods and the output of the retail sector, both of which are used in the compilation of the national accounts.

The main output measures include value and volume estimates, in both seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted forms.

The value estimates reflect the total turnover that businesses have collected over a standard period, while the volume estimates are calculated by taking the value estimates and adjusting to remove the impact of price changes.

The value and volume measures of retail sales estimates are widely used in private and public sector institutions, particularly by the Bank of England and Her Majesty’s Treasury, to assist in informed decision- and policy-making.

Further information on estimated prices and the value of retail sales by commodity are published alongside the RSI.

Also published is an experimental internet estimate, which extracts the proportion of retail sales made over the internet.

There are plans in place to review this experimental index and assess it for designation as a National Statistic status.

Methodology and articles


Improving quality information for the RSI (118.6 Kb Pdf)


User engagement for retail sales statsitics (64.7 Kb Pdf)

Differences between RSI and national accounts revisions policy (53.9 Kb Pdf)
Users and uses of short-term economic indicators (47 Kb Pdf)
Change to imputation method used for the turnover question in monthly business surveys (74.4 Kb Pdf)
Revisions to the RSI 2014 (100 Kb Pdf)
The retail sales work plan 2014 (135.9 Kb Pdf)

RSI and other surveys (95.5 Kb Pdf)

A quick guide to internet sales (167.6 Kb Pdf)
A quick guide to the RSI (195 Kb Pdf)


Updated accuracy measures for the RSI (29.6 Kb Pdf)


RSI2010 Triennial Review (103.4 Kb Pdf)

Internet strategy

Measuring the accuracy of the RSI - revisions and standard errors (1.04 Mb Pdf)


Frequently asked questions for January 2010 (81.6 Kb Pdf)

An experimental measure of internet retail sales: changes to methods (85.6 Kb Pdf)

Classification changes in retail sales (150.8 Kb Pdf)


Quality and methodology information report for RSI (245.6 Kb Pdf)

Frequently asked questions for RSI following methods changes (82.3 Kb Pdf)

Changes to the retail sales methodology (124.3 Kb Pdf)


Decomposing the RSI implied price deflator and the Consumer Prices Index(CPI) (193.7 Kb Pdf)

An experimental measure of internet retail sales (111.5 Kb Pdf)


Comparing ONS's RSI with British Retail Consortium's (BRC's) retail sales monitor (163.9 Kb Pdf)

Report on the full triennial review of the retail sales inquiry 2007 (2 Mb Pdf)

RSI revisions policy (47.5 Kb Pdf)


RSI Development (31.7 Kb Pdf)

Interpreting retail sales data (68.4 Kb Pdf)

RSI development: implementation (140.1 Kb Pdf)

RSI - A description of the new methods (202.5 Kb Pdf)

Rebased RSI data (42 Kb Excel sheet)

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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