United Kingdom - Retail Sales

United Kingdom: Retail Sales

Mnemonic WRT.IGBR
Unit Index 2019=100, SA
Adjustments Seasonally Adjusted
Monthly 1.66 %
Data Feb 2023 116.5
Jan 2023 114.6

Series Information

Source U.K. Office for National Statistics (ONS)
Release Retail Sales
Frequency Monthly
Start Date 1/31/1996
End Date 2/28/2023

United Kingdom: Consumer

Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Real Retail Sales Feb 2023 99.2 98 Ch. Vol. Index 2019=100, SA Monthly
Retail Sales Feb 2023 116.5 114.6 Index 2019=100, SA Monthly
Consumer Confidence Dec 2020 -14.6 -23.1 SA Monthly
Personal Income 2020 26,000 25,000 GBP Annual

Release Information

Retail sales measures for the U.K., detailed by UK SIC 2007, in nominal and real (CVM) terms, in several analytic forms (percent change, index, YTD). Monthly, quarterly and annual from 1986.


  • National accounts framework: ESA 2010
  • Industry classification: UK SIC 2007
  • Measurement: Varies (see below), with reference year 2019
  • Adjustment: Varies
  • Native frequencies: Monthly, quarterly, annual
  • Start date: As early as 1988m1


  • At 2018 prices
  • At 2016 prices
  • ESA 95

Measurement-combinations are built from these atoms:

  • Mil. GBP       = millions of pounds sterling
  • Index YYYY=100 = fixed-base index relative to year YYYY
  • Vol. Index     = volume index
  • % | Vol. %     = nominal or real percent change
  • M/M | Y/Y      = percent change interval: month-over-month or year-over-year
  • 3-mo. MA       = smoothing: 3-month moving average
  • YTD            = cumulation: year to date
  • SA | NSA       = seasonally adjusted or not

The ONS metadata (that we have translated to our standardized symbology) is sometimes inconsistent or ambiguous. We have used the symbol "% X/X" to denote a percent change where the interval is unclear.

The source writes:

The value and volume measures of retail sales estimates are widely used in private and public sector organizations, 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 organizations 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.

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 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), an internationally consistent 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.


For chained volume measures, the currency reference year is advanced annually.