Retailers bounce back from record low to beat expectations

Retail sales volumes rose 3.4% in January, after falling 3.3% in December, the Office for National Statistics said.

The UK’s shops bounced back from a record poor December performance last month, notching up their biggest single monthly gain in close to three years.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that retail sales volumes, which also include online retailers, rose 3.4% during January, up from a fall of 3.3% in December.

It was the fastest rise since April 2021, the month when non-essential retailers were allowed to reopen following the third national lockdown for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Heather Bovill, deputy director for surveys and economic indicators at the ONS said: “After a very weak December, retail sales rebounded in January with the largest monthly rise since April 2021.

“This means that overall sales have now recovered to pre-December levels, although if we look at the broader picture, they are still below where they were pre-pandemic.”

The January reading was also a lot higher than the 1.5% that economists had forecast, according to an average supplied by Pantheon Macroeconomics.

A lot of the change was due to food shops, which saw sales increase 3.4% during the months. The only type of retailer that had a worse performance last month were those selling clothes.

Ms Bovill said: “Sales increased across nearly all retail sectors, and it was a particularly strong month for supermarkets

“Household goods stores, sports shops and department store retailers were amongst those reporting robust trading due to January sales promotions.

“A fall in prices at the pump also meant a solid month for fuel sales.

“Clothing shops were the only area not to see growth this month.”

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