ONS: February sales recover to show growth after slow December and January

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed its retail figures for the month of February, with the slump through the beginning of the year counteracted with ‘fairly strong’ growth.

Estimates of the quantity bought in retail sales increased by 3.7% compared with February 2016 and increased by 1.4% compared with January 2017, with growth seen across all store types.

Average store prices (including fuel) increased by 2.8% on the year, the largest growth since March 2012; the largest contribution came from petrol stations, where year-on-year average prices rose by 18.7%.

Online sales (excluding fuel) increased year-on-year by 20.7% and by 3.3% on the month, accounting for approximately 15.3% of all retail spending.

When compared with February 2016, the amount spent (value) and quantity bought (volume) in the retail industry showed strong increases. There were also strong increases when compared with January. However, the underlying trend as described by the three month on three month growth rate has fallen for the second month, following a sustained period of growth in this measure.

ONS senior statistician Kate Davies commented: “February’s retail sales figures show fairly strong growth, though the underlying three-month picture shows falling sales as February’s figures follow two consecutive months of decline in December and January. The monthly growth in February is seen across all store types. The underlying trend suggests that rising petrol prices in particular have had a negative effect on the overall quantity of goods bought over the last three months.”

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