Rebound in January Sales Despite Recent Recession

Josh Gunnell, director of retail at TransUnion in the UK, comments on the recent Office for National Statistics January Retail Sales index.

“The latest Retail Sales Index from the Office for National Statistics paints a picture of recovery following December's sharp decline as retail sales volumes rebounded by 3.4%, marking the largest monthly rise since April 2021. This return to November 2023 levels is particularly notable, with food stores, especially supermarkets, driving the increase.

“Despite this positive momentum, sales volumes remain below pre-pandemic levels, indicating consumers are still feeling the effects of the ongoing economic challenges. Non-food stores also saw a modest recovery, while online spending values fell slightly but remained higher than a year ago.

“However, amidst the UK's recent recession, where GDP fell by 0.3% in the three months to December, the challenges for both retailers and consumers have intensified. As the cost-of-living crisis continues, hard-pressed households facing financial strain have reduced spending, adding to this economic downturn. The shift in consumer behaviour, coupled with the impact of inflation and rising living costs, underscores the need for retailers to prioritise seamless experiences and adapt to evolving trends in both online and in-store environments.”