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Statistical bulletin: Retail Sales, January 2015 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 20 February 2015 Download PDF

Key Points

  • Continuing a sustained period of year-on-year growth, retail sales in January 2015 were estimated to have increased by 5.4% compared with January 2014. This is the 22nd consecutive month of year-on-year growth and the longest period of sustained year-on-year growth since May 2008 when there were 31 periods of growth.
  • The underlying pattern in the rolling three-month on three-month movement in the quantity bought showed continued growth for the 23rd consecutive month, increasing by 2.3%. This was the strongest growth since April 2002 when the quantity bought grew by 2.5% and was the longest period of sustained growth since November 2007 when there were 25 periods of consecutive growth.
  • Compared with December 2014, the quantity bought in the retail industry was estimated to have decreased by 0.3%. There was a significant increase in the quantity bought in petrol stations and department stores but this did not negate the downwards pressure from predominantly food stores, textile, clothing and footwear and other stores.
  • Average store prices fell by 3.1% in January 2015 compared with January 2014. This was the largest year-on-year fall since consistent records began in 1997. The largest contribution to the year-on-year fall once again came from petrol stations which fell by 15.1%, the largest year-on-year fall in this store type on record.
  • In January 2015, the amount spent in the retail industry increased by 2.3% compared with January 2014 and fell by 1.0% compared with December 2014. Non-seasonally adjusted data show that the average weekly spend in the retail industry in January 2015 was £6.5 billion, compared with £6.3 billion in January 2014 and £9.0 billion in December 2014.
  • The value of Internet sales decreased by 0.2% in January 2015 compared with December 2014 and accounted for 11.6% of all retail sales in January 2015. Online sales increased by 12.0% compared with January 2014.
  • Revisions in this release were caused by the incorporation of late data. The earliest revisions point for current price, non-seasonally adjusted data was January 2014. More information on revisions can be found in the background notes.

Additional Information

This bulletin presents estimates of the quantity bought (volume) and amount spent (value) in the retail industry for the period 4 January 2015 to 31 January 2015. Unless otherwise stated, the estimates in this release are seasonally adjusted.

Users are reminded that the figures contained in this release are estimates based on a monthly survey of 5,000 retailers, including all large retailers employing 100 people or more.

The quality of the estimate of Retail Sales

Retail sales estimates are produced from the Monthly Business Survey – RSI. The timeliness of these retail sales estimates, which are published just three weeks after the end of each month, makes them an important early economic indicator. The industry as a whole is used as an indicator of how the wider economy is performing, and the strength of consumer spending. Results are revised for the previous thirteen published periods. More information about the data content for this release can be found in the background notes. Revisions are an inevitable consequence of the trade-off between timeliness and accuracy. The response rate in January 2015 was 60.2% of questionnaires, accounting for 92.5% of registered turnover in the retail industry. Therefore the estimate is subject to revisions as more data become available.

All estimates, by definition, are subject to statistical uncertainty and for the retail sales index The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes the standard error associated with the non-seasonally adjusted estimates of year-on-year and month-on-month growth in the quantity bought as a measure of accuracy. More information on these standard errors can be found in the background notes of this bulletin and in the quality tables (163.5 Kb Excel sheet) of this release.

It should be noted that ONS is continually working on methodological changes to improve the accuracy of the retail sales estimates; progress on these can be found on the ONS continuous improvement page on the website.

For different ways to access the data see the reference tables section on the ONS website. These include:

  • Non-seasonally adjusted and seasonally adjusted volume and value indexes by industry, and

  • Year-on-year and month-on-month growth rates by industry.

 

Key Figures

Table 1: All Retailing, January 2015 (seasonally adjusted percentage change)

      Most recent month on a year earlier Most recent 3 months on a year earlier Most recent month on previous month Most recent 3 months on previous 3 months
Amount spent (Value)  2.3 2.7 -1.0 1.4
Quantity bought (Volume) 5.4 5.2 -0.3 2.3
Value excluding automotive fuel 3.0 3.4 -0.9 1.6
Volume excluding automotive fuel   4.8 5.1 -0.7 2.0

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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At a Glance

In January 2015, the quantity bought in the retail industry (volume) increased by 5.4% compared with January 2014. The amount spent (value) increased by 2.3%. In January 2015, non-seasonally adjusted data show that the prices of goods sold in the retail industry (as measured by the implied price deflator) decreased by 3.1%. More information on how the implied price deflator is calculated can be found in section 3 of the background notes.

Economic Context

To enable a comparison of change, Figure 1 shows the quantity of goods bought in the retail industry (all retailing sales volumes), the amount spent (all retailing sales values) and the implied deflator (implied price movement for all retailing sales), as indices referenced to 2011.

Figure 1: All retailing, seasonally adjusted sales volumes, values and implied deflator

Figure 1: All retailing, seasonally adjusted sales volumes, values and implied deflator
Source: Monthly Business Survey - Retail Sales Inquiry - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Click on image to view an enlarged version.

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Prior to the 2008/09 downturn, both the quantity and the value of retail sales grew steadily; the quantity of retail sales (including fuel) grew by 7.3% between January 2005 and January 2008, and the value grew by 11.5%. This may partly be attributed to average weekly earnings (AWE) increasing more rapidly than the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) over this period, allowing households to consume more retail goods. Real household disposable income also grew by 6.6% over the same period.

Between January 2008 and January 2013 (the area shaded in grey), the volume of retail sales was broadly flat while the value of retail sales continued to grow, increasing by 12.1%. The difference reflects the extent to which prices have grown following the onset of the economic downturn – the CPI increased by 17.9% over this period – as well as falling household real earnings over the same period.

However, since 2013, growth in volume terms has increased noticeably. The volume of retail sales is now 9.1% higher than it was in January 2013; which corresponds to an average growth of 0.4% per month.

From 2013 until mid-2014, both the volume and value of sales grew at roughly the same rate, implying that prices were broadly stable in this period. However since then, the volume of sales has been growing faster than the value, and there has been a corresponding fall in the implied deflator since mid-2014. The CPI has also been on a downward trend over this period, and now stands at 0.3%, the lowest annual rate since comparable records began. Further analysis into this topic can be found in ONS’s statistical bulletin Consumer Price Inflation January 2015. In volume terms, the three-month on three-month estimate of 2.3% was the highest growth rate since April 2002. Comparing the three months to January to the same three months a year ago, the quantity bought increased by 5.2%; this was last higher in October 2004 when it was 5.6%. November saw the largest month on year growth rate on record at 6.5%. This level was sustained during December, and only fell off slightly during January, which explains the strength of the three-month growth rate.

Contributions to Growth

The retail industry is divided into four retail sectors:

  • Predominantly food stores (for example, supermarkets, specialist food stores and sales of alcoholic drinks and tobacco),

  • Predominantly non-food stores (for example, non-specialised stores, such as department stores, textiles, clothing and footwear, household goods and other stores),

  • Non-store retailing (for example, mail order, catalogues and market stalls), and

  • Stores selling automotive fuel (petrol stations).

In January 2015, for every pound spent in the retail industry:

  • 42 pence was spent in food stores,

  • 41 pence in non-food stores,

  • 6 pence in non-store retailing, and

  • 11 pence in stores selling automotive fuel.

Using these as weights, along with the year-on-year growth rates, we can calculate how each sector contributed to the total year-on-year growth in the quantity bought.

Figures 2 and 3 show the contribution of each sector to the quantity bought (volume) and amount spent (value) in the retail industry between January 2015 and January 2014.

Figure 2: Contributions to year-on-year volume growth from the four main retail sectors (January 2015 compared with January 2014)

Figure 2: Contributions to year-on-year volume growth from the four main retail sectors (January 2015 compared with January 2014)
Source: Monthly Business Survey - Retail Sales Inquiry - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Click on image to view an enlarged version

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In January 2015, all main retail sectors saw an increase in the quantity bought (volume). The largest contribution came from the non-food stores sector.

Figure 3: Contributions to year-on-year value growth from the four main retail sectors (January 2015 compared with January 2014)

Figure 3: Contributions to year-on-year value growth from the four main retail sectors (January 2015 compared with January 2014)
Source: Monthly Business Survey - Retail Sales Inquiry - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Click on an image to view an enlarged version

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In January 2015, three out of the four main sectors (non-store retailing, non-food stores and food stores) contributed to the increase in amount spent (value). The largest contribution came from the non-food stores sector.

Sector Summary

Key points:

  • In January 2015, all store types showed increases in the quantity bought compared with January 2014. The increase in the quantity bought in petrol stations of 11.1% was the largest year-on-year increase since December 2011 when it grew by 13.7%.

  • All main store types except petrol stations showed increases in the amount spent year-on-year. This was the 17th consecutive month where the amount spent in petrol stations fell and is the longest period since such records began.

  • In January 2015, average store prices fell by 3.1% compared with January 2014; this was the largest year-on-year fall since records began in 1997.

  • All store types except textile, clothing and footwear stores showed falls in average store price in January 2015 compared with January 2014. Prices in food stores fell by 1.6%; this was the largest fall since January 2002 when they fell by 1.9%.

Table 2: Sector Summary, January 2015

  Percentage change over 12 months
Quantity bought (volume)  Amount spent (value)  Average store price  Average weekly sales (£ billion)
Predominantly food stores¹ 2.5 0.6 -1.6 2.7
Predominantly non-food stores² 5.0 3.7 -1.2 2.7
Non-specialised stores³ 5.0 3.4 -1.6 0.5
Textile, clothing and footwear stores 4.4 4.9 0.6 0.7
Household goods stores 2.5 0.2 -2.3 0.6
Other stores 7.0 5.2 -1.9 0.8
Non-store retailing 17.1 14.1 -2.3 0.5
Fuel stores 11.1 -4.6 -15.1 0.6
Total   5.4 2.3 -3.1 6.5

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Supermarkets, specialist food stores and sales of alcoholic drinks & tobacco.
  2. Non-specialised stores, textiles, clothing and footwear, household goods and other stores.
  3. Department stores.

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More information on how average store prices are calculated can be found in the quick guide to retail sales or in the background notes.

Effects of falling prices on retail sales

In January 2015, average store prices fell by 3.1% compared with January 2014; this was the largest year-on-year fall since records began in 1997. Store prices in January 2015 fell by 2.0% compared with December 2014; this was the largest month-on-month fall since December 2008 when they fell by 2.1%.

While January 2015 has seen a record decrease in average store price within the retail sector, prices have been falling gradually throughout 2014, with predominantly food stores and fuel stores showing the largest falls.

Figure 4: Contribution to year-on-year average store prices growth from the four main retail sectors

Figure 4: Contribution to year-on-year average store prices growth from the four main retail sectors
Source: Monthly Business Survey - Retail Sales Inquiry - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Click on image to view an enlarged version.

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Figure 4 shows that petrol stations provided almost half of the percentage point change to the year-on-year fall in average store prices. The longer-term picture is shown in figure 5 and shows that since 2011 average prices for all retailing have been fairly stable, however, since the middle of 2014, prices have fallen sharply caused mainly by the fall in petrol stations with a smaller contribution from food stores.

Figure 5: Average store prices for food, fuel and all retailing as measured by the implied deflator

Figure 5: Average store prices for food, fuel and all retailing as measured by the implied deflator
Source: Monthly Business Survey - Retail Sales Inquiry - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Click on image to view an enlarged version.

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Internet sales in detail

Seasonally adjusted Internet sales data are provided within this release. These seasonally adjusted estimates are published in the RSI internet tables and include:

  • a seasonally adjusted value index, and

  • year-on-year and month-on-month growth rates.

Internet sales are estimates of how much was spent online through retailers across all store types in Great Britain. The reference year is 2011=100.

Key Points

  • Average weekly spending online in January 2015 was £753.3 million. This was an increase of 12.0% compared with January 2014.

  • The online spend in predominantly food stores increased by 14.9% compared with January 2014. This is the largest year-on-year growth in this store type since April 2014.

  • The amount spent online accounted for 11.6% of all retail spending excluding automotive fuel, compared with 10.7% in January 2014.

Table 3 shows the year-on-year growth rates for total Internet sales by sector and the proportion of sales made online in each retail sector.

Table 3: Summary of Internet Statistics for January 2015 (seasonally adjusted)

Category Value Seasonally Adjusted Year-on-year growth (%)  Value Seasonally Adjusted Proportion of total sales  made online (%)
All retailing 12.0 11.6
All food 14.9 4.0
All non-food 6.2 8.8
  Department stores 8.8 10.1
  Textile, clothing and footwear stores 11.8 11.6
  Household goods stores 2.1 6.1
  Other stores -1.1 7.2
Non-store retailing 15.6 70.1

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Distribution Analysis

Table 4 illustrates the mix of experiences among different sized retailers. It shows the distribution of reported change in sales values of businesses in the RSI sample, ranked by size of business (based on number of employees). It shows that businesses with 10–39 employees saw the largest growth in the amount spent, comparing January 2015 with January 2014. Businesses with 100+ employees experienced growth of 1.6%.

Table 4: Changes in reported retail sales values between January 2014 and January 2015 standard reporting periods (by size of business)

Number of employees Weights (%) Growth since January 2014 (%)
100+ 77.3 1.6
40-99 3.2 4.5
10-39 6.7 14.6
0-9 12.8 14.3

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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More information on the performance of the retail industry by store type and size can be found in the reference table, Business Analysis (25.5 Kb Excel sheet) . This shows the extent to which individual businesses reported actual changes in their sales between January 2014 and January 2015. The table contains information only from businesses that reported in January 2014 and January 2015. Cells with values less than 10 are suppressed for some classification categories; this is denoted by c. Note that ‘large’ businesses are defined as those with 100+ employees and 10–99 employees with annual turnover of more than £60 million. ‘Small and medium’ businesses is defined as 0–99 employees.

Amount Spent in the Retail Industry

In the January 2015 four-week reporting period, the amount spent in the retail industry was £25.8 billion (non-seasonally adjusted). This compares with £45.0 billion in the five-week reporting period for December 2014 and £31.7 billion in the five-week reporting period for January 2014.

This equates to an average weekly spend of £6.5 billion in January 2015, £9.0 billion in December 2014 and £6.3 billion in January 2014.

International Data

The only international estimate of retail sales available for January 2015 was published by the US Census Bureau on 12 February. In its advanced retail sales estimates for January 2015, the amount spent in the US retail industry, including motor vehicles and parts and food services, decreased by 0.8% compared with December 2014 but increased by 3.3% compared with January 2014. Total sales for the three months to January 2015 were up 3.8% from the same period a year ago.

The latest estimates from Eurostat for December 2014 of the volume of retail trade across Europe showed increases of 0.3% in both the euro area (EA18) and EU28 when compared with November 2014. Compared with December 2013, the retail sales index increased by 2.8% in the EA18 and by 3.2% in the EU28. The average of retail trade for the year 2014, compared with 2013, rose by 1.3% in the EA18 and by 1.9% in the EU28. It should be noted that an accurate comparison cannot be made as Eurostat data are calculated on a 2010 = 100 basis, while GB data are now calculated on a 2011 = 100 basis.


Background notes

  1.  What’s New

    The index series for implied deflators have been published 20 February 2015.

    A subset of the retail sales dataset will be published on the Data Explorer on 24 February 2015. Please note the link will not work until the data is published. The ONS Data Explorer is a major step forward in the way we provide data for website users. It helps users to discover relevant datasets for their needs, and to view or download them, it also provides facilities for users to refine datasets to extract only the information for the areas they require. We would welcome any feedback from users on this new method of using data, please e-mail retail.sales.enquiries@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

    In November 2014 the Government Statistical Service (GSS) uncertainty guidance was published.

    ONS published a summary of initial responses to the current National Accounts Survey on 9 January 2015. ONS is continuing to gather views from users on how the retail sales statistics and other short-term economic indicators data are used; if you have not yet contributed then we would welcome your views by completing the survey.

    With regards changes / improvements that users would like to see to retail sales statistics:

    • "More detail and a comment on the first revision point." ONS have now included this in the key points section of this bulletin.

    • "Stop saying that the RSI deflators are in line with the CPI when it is not! Include triangulation against other sources." The deflators used in the compilation of chain volume measures of retail sales are commodity level consumer price indices (CPI). Thus when the CPI shows a fall in fuel prices, this will also be seen in the implied deflator for fuel stores, hence why it is said that movements in the implied deflator are consistent with the CPI. However, to avoid any confusion, ONS will look to explain this better in all future releases.

  2. Relevant Links

    Overview of internet retail sales in 2014

    Has 2014 been a good year for retailers

    Revisions to the Retail Sales Index (100 Kb Pdf) details why revisions to the non-seasonally adjusted and seasonally adjusted data can occur. Revisions triangles can be found under section 5 Quality in the background notes.

    International Measures of Retail Sales

    Disclosure control policy (337 Kb Word document)

    Comparability of RSI Sales and External Indicators (95.5 Kb Pdf)

    RSI Workplan (87.3 Kb Pdf)

    Why is the retail sales revisions policy different from the National Accounts revisions policy? (53.9 Kb Pdf)

    RSI Quality and Methodology Information paper (245.6 Kb Pdf)

    BRC Sales Monitor January 2015 

    National Accounts Workplan (410 Kb Powerpoint presentation)

    14 ways ONS statistics help you understand the economy - A closer look at the circular flow of income

    Impact of quarterly employment question on the monthly survey response (163.7 Kb Pdf)

    Investigating the effect of quarterly collection of employee jobs data on the estimated standard error of change for total turnover on the Monthly Business Survey (110 Kb Pdf)

  3. Understanding the data

    1. Quick Guide to the Retail Sales Index

    Please visit Quick Guide to the Retail Sales Index (117.1 Kb Pdf) .

    2. Interpreting the data

    • The Retail Sales Index (RSI) is derived from a monthly survey of 5,000 businesses in Great Britain. The sample represents the whole retail sector and includes the 900 largest retailers and a representative panel of smaller businesses. Collectively all of these businesses cover approximately 90 per cent of the retail industry in terms of turnover.

    • The RSI covers sales only from businesses classified as retailers according to the Standard Industrial Classification 2007 (SIC 2007), consistent with the international NACE Rev 2 classification of industries. The retail industry is division 47 of the SIC 2007 and retailing is defined as the sale of goods to the general public for household consumption. Consequently, the RSI includes all Internet businesses whose primary function is retailing and also covers Internet sales by other British retailers, such as online sales by supermarkets, department stores and catalogue companies. The RSI does not cover household spending on services bought from the retail industry as it is designed to only cover goods. Respondents are asked to separate out the non-goods elements of their sales, for example, income from cafes. Consequently, online sales of services by retailers, such as car insurance, would also be excluded.

    • The monthly survey collects two figures from each sampled business: the total turnover for retail sales for the standard trading period, and a separate figure for Internet sales. The total turnover will include Internet sales. The separation of the Internet sales figure allows an estimate relating to Internet sales to be calculated.

    3. Definitions and explanations

    • The value or current price series records the growth of the value of sales ‘through the till’ before any adjustment for the effects of price changes.

    • The volume or constant price series are created by removing the effect of price changes from the value series. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) is the main source of the information required on price changes. In brief, a deflator for each type of store (5-digit SIC) is derived by weighting together the CPI components for the appropriate commodities, the weights being based on the pattern of sales in the base year. These deflators are then applied to the value data to produce volume series.

    • The implied deflator or the estimated price of goods is derived by dividing the non-seasonally adjusted value and volume data to leave a price relative. In general, this implied price deflator should be quite close to the retail component of the CPI. More information on the implied price deflator can be found in the Quick Guide to Retail Sales (117.1 Kb Pdf) .

    4. Use of the data
    The value and volume measures of retail sales estimates are widely used in private and public sector organisations, both domestically and internationally. For example, private sector institutions such as investment banks, the retail industry itself and retail groups use the data to inform decisions on the current economic performance of the retail industry. These organisations are most interested in a long-term view of the retail sector, taken from the year-on-year growth rates. Public sector institutions use the data to help inform decision and policy making. They tend to be most interested in a snapshot view of the retail industry, which is taken from the month-on-month growth rates.

    In a recent survey users found the Retail Sales Index statistics important to their work. It was found crucial for financial modelling of sectors and recognised as a timely indicator for the economy. It has been used as a comparative tool with BRC and other market sources to boost context. Practically, it has been utilised as a comparative tool for business performance and the ability to access internet retail sales has been particularly beneficial to some. On a non-industry level, the RSI was perceived as important for informing political opinions or simply for curiosity by individuals who were not necessarily utilising it as a reference for work purposes.

    The Retail Sales Index feeds into estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) in two ways. Firstly it feeds into the services industries when GDP is measured from the output approach. Secondly it is a data source used to measure household final consumption expenditure which feeds into GDP estimates when measured from the expenditure approach.

    The data feed into the first (or preliminary) estimate of GDP, the second estimate of GDP and the third estimate which is published in the Quarterly National Accounts.

  4. Methods

    1. Composition of the data

    Estimates in RSI are based on financial data collected through the monthly Retail Sales Inquiry. Response rates at the time of publication are included for the current month, and the three months prior. The response rates for those historical periods are updated to reflect the current level of response, incorporating data from late returns. Two response rates are included with one percentage for the amount of turnover returned, and the other percentage for the amount of questionnaire forms. Historical response rates are available in the quality information reference table.

    Table 5: Overall Response Rates

    Overall response rates (%)
    Year Period Turnover Questionnaire
    2015 January 92.5 60.2
    2014 December 96.2 73.6
    November 97.5 76.4
      October  99.1 78.2

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    2. Seasonal adjustment

    Seasonally adjusted estimates are derived by estimating and removing calendar effects (for example, Easter moving between March and May) and seasonal effects (for example, increased spending in December as a result of Christmas) from the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) estimates. Seasonal adjustment is performed each month and reviewed each year, using the standard, widely used software, X-13-ARIMA-SEATS. Before adjusting for seasonality, prior adjustments are made for calendar effects (where statistically significant), such as returns that do not comply with the standard trading period (see section Methods, Calendar effects), bank holidays, Easter and the day of the week on which Christmas occurs.

    The data collected from the retail sales survey estimate the amount of money taken through the tills of retailers; these are non-seasonally adjusted data. These data consist of three components:

    • trend which describes long-term or underlying movements within the data

    • seasonal which describes regular variation around the trend, that is, peaks and troughs within the time series (the most obvious is the peak in December and the fall in January)

    • irregular or ‘noise’, for example, deeper falls within the non-seasonally adjusted series due to bad weather impacting on retail sales

    To ease interpretation of the underlying movements in the data, the seasonal adjustment process estimates and removes the seasonal component. It leaves a seasonally adjusted time series made up of the trend and irregular components.

    In the non-seasonally adjusted RSI we see large rises in December each year and a fall in the following January, but these are not evident in the seasonally adjusted index. This peak in December is larger than the subsequent fall but the trend and irregular components in both months are likely to be similar. This means that the movements in the unadjusted series are almost completely as a result of the seasonal pattern.

    3 .  Calendar effects

    The calculation of the RSI has an adjustment to compensate for calendar effects that come from the differences in reporting periods. The reporting period for January 2015 was 4 January 2015 to 31 January 2015, compared with 29 December 2013 to 1 February 2014 in the previous year. Table 6 shows the differences between the calendar and seasonally adjusted estimates.

    Table 6: Retail Sales, Calendar Effects

    Year-on-year percentage change
      Value Volume
    Calendar adjusted 2.1 4.9
    Seasonally adjusted 2.3 5.4

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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  5. 1. Basic quality information

    • The standard reporting periods can change over time due to the movement of the calendar. Every five or six years the standard reporting periods are brought back into line by adding an extra week. For example, January is typically a four-week standard period but January 1986, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2014 were all five-week standard periods. The non-seasonally adjusted estimates will still contain calendar effects. If the non-seasonally adjusted estimates are used for analysis, this can lead to a distortion depending on the timing of the standard reporting period in relation to the calendar, previous reporting periods and how trading activity changes over time.

    • The non-seasonally adjusted series contain elements relating to the impact of the standard reporting period, moving seasonality and trading day activity. When making comparisons users should focus on the seasonally adjusted estimates as these have the systematic calendar-related component removed. Due to the volatility of the monthly data, growth rates should be calculated using an average of the latest three months of the seasonally adjusted estimates.

    • When interpreting the data, consideration should be given to the relative weighted contributions of the sectors in the all retailing series. Based on SIC 2007 data, total retail sales consists of: predominantly food stores 41.5%, predominantly non-food stores 41.3%, non-store retailing 5.7% and automotive fuel 11.5%.

    2. Standard error

    • Standard errors determine the spread of possible movements and are a means of assessing the accuracy of the non-seasonally adjusted month-on-month and year-on-year estimates of all retail sales volumes. The lower the standard error, the more confident we can be that the estimate is close to the true value for the retail population.

    • The standard error of year-on-year movement for 'All Retailing' is 0.9%. Since September 2012, this standard error has been at 0.9% for all but three months. It was lower in May 2012, at 0.8%, while the only other difference was for the year-on-year movements up to August 2013 and September 2013, where there was a standard error of 1.0%.

    • Table 7 shows the year-on-year movement for the non-seasonally adjusted chained volume measure alongside the standard error, across the published sector breakdowns for January 2014 and 2015. It highlights that the standard error has decreased the most in ‘Other stores’ and the greatest increases are for ‘Automotive fuel’ and ‘Non-store retailing’.

    • More information on standard errors can be found in the ‘Quality Tables’ reference tables, which are part of this release.

    Table 7: Year-on-year estimates and standard errors (chained volume measures, non-seasonally adjusted) January 2014 and January 2015

    Sector January 2014 January 2015
      12-month movement January 2014 (percentage change) Standard error of 12-month movement, median (percentage points) 12-month movement January 2015 (percentage change) Standard error of 12-month movement, median (percentage points)
    All retailing 3.8 0.9 5.1 0.9
    Predominantly food stores 1.5 0.6 1.6 0.7
    Predominantly non-food stores 6.8 1.2 4.9 1.0
    -       Non-specialised stores 7.9 1.7 5.2 1.7
    -       Textile, clothing and footwear stores 0.1 1.4 4.1 1.4
    -       Household goods stores 7.3 1.9 3.1 1.4
    -       Other stores 12.7 3.1 6.9 2.4
    Non-store retailing 8.2 4.6 16.5 5.2
    Automotive fuel -1.1 3.4 12.0 4.0

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    3. Summary quality report

    The RSI Quality and Methodology Information paper (245.6 Kb Pdf) describes in detail the intended uses of the statistics in this bulletin, their general quality and the methods used to produce them.

    4. Revisions triangles

    Revisions to data provide one indication of the reliability of key indicators. Table 8 shows summary information on the size and direction of the revisions made to the volume data covering a five-year period. Note that changes in definition and classification mean that the revision analysis is not conceptually the same over time.

    Table 8: All Retailing, Volume Seasonally Adjusted, Revisions Triangles Summary Statistics, January 2015

    Volume seasonally adjusted

      Growth in latest period (%) Revisions between first publication and estimates twelve months later (percentage points)
    Average over the last five years (mean revision) Average over the last five years without regard to sign (average absolute revision)
    Latest three months compared with previous three months   2.3 -0.27 0.36
    Latest month compared with previous month   -0.3 -0.13 0.40

    Table source: Office for National Statistics

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    A spreadsheet giving these estimates and the calculations behind the averages in the table is available in the data section of this publication.

  6. Publication Policy

    Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the Media Relations Office. Also available is a list of the organisations given pre-publication access to the contents of this bulletin.


    Accessing data

    The complete run of data in the tables of this statistical bulletin is available to view and download in electronic format using the ONS Time Series Data service. Users can download the complete bulletin in a choice of zipped formats, or view and download their own sections of individual series. The Time Series Data can be accessed.

    Alternatively, for low-cost tailored data call 0845 601 3034 or email info@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    Next publication: Thursday 23 March 2015

    Issued by: Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport NP10 8XG

    Media contact:
    Tel  Media Relations Office 0845 6041858
          Emergency on-call 07867 906553
    Email   media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    Statistical contact:
    Tel  Kate Davies +44 (0)1633 455602
    Email  retail.sales.enquiries@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    Contact us:
    Tel   0845 601 3034   
    Email   info@ons.gsi.gov.uk
    Website www.ons.gov.uk
    Twitter   


  7. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Kate Davies +44 (0)1633 455602 ONS retail.sales.enquiries@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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