UK retail sales up 4.6% in volume and value (excluding motor fuel)

The figures for the last three months compared to a year earlier still show good growth and no retail price inflation, with both volume and value figures up 4.6%. Add in motor fuel where oil prices have soared and volume growth is 3.8%.


  1. libertarian
    February 17, 2017

    Yeh so what does the Tory government do? I know massively increase business rates that will put a stop to retail growth . Dumb and dumber

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      February 17, 2017

      Not only retail growth but manufacturing growth.
      It’s a game of musical chairs – move out or pay up.
      This is a phenomenally stupid tax, unless your government wants you to stop employing people and get rid of manufacturing equipment which doesn’t make a return on rent + a tax loosely related to rent. Business in a high-property price area = move your business out.

      1. libertarian
        February 17, 2017


        You are of course right. I own a large community centre, we pay £25k in business rates ( inc BID levy) which is a quarter of our total revenue … madness

      2. Ken Moore
        February 17, 2017

        High Rates are like a dose of Strychnine to small businesses.
        It is a blunt unfair tax that takes no account of a companies turnover or profitability.
        Businesses such as stables that require large sq ft’s relative to turnover are being driven to bankruptcy.

        1. John Finn
          February 18, 2017

          About 15 years ago, I acted as a secretary for a small social club and appealed against the rateable value imposed on the club (turnover was falling). To be fair, the authorities were pretty sympathetic and they did reduce the value by about 10%. I can’t remember the exact details but I think we were placed on the minimum rate.

  2. lojolondon
    February 17, 2017

    Good point, John, unfortunately totally unreported in our biased media!! On another point, I know that you are against HS2, but are you aware that the contractor who won the £70m contract has billed the government £104m – so far. And they have been awarded the next stage of the contract – value £170m. So, extrapolating current form, do you think the chancellor should budget to spend in the region of £255m on that contract?

  3. Ginty
    February 17, 2017

    Retail inflation may go up because of revalued business rates in certain areas. Either that or medium shops will close.

    This is owing to house price inflation which has been subsidised by:

    – low interest
    – QE
    – HTB
    – Mass immigration

    The unpleasant consequences of these measures had to filter through somewhere. People are asking for a further subsidy of high house prices through the adjustment in business rates. I say no. Let people use the equity they have accrued to subsidise local shops, cafes. If not then turn them into accommodation and ease demand.

    London Remain hipsters wanted more EU and mass immigration to drive up their asset prices ? Well let them lose their indy shops, micro breweries and coffee bars.

  4. Know-dice
    February 17, 2017

    Completely off topic 🙁

    Well done to Mr Blair for helping the Brexit cause – Why does this discredited politician think that ANYONE will take any notice of what he says?

  5. fedupsoutherner
    February 17, 2017

    Well, I’m waiting for the road tax to be announced for diesel cars. WE have only just bought ours and the emissions are low for a diesel. The exhaust is treated with a spray to keep the harmful emissions to a minimum but I wonder if this will be taken into account? Prices will not only rise at the pumps but the tax will be hefty too I suspect. How does taxing the motorist help with emissions? We are still driving but being penalised for doing so. Some of us need a 4×4 and we are always slated for driving them. We have land we work on and live in a remote area which is not great in the winter. We don’t all drive them for show.

  6. Eh?
    February 17, 2017

    Tony Blair doesn’t read that kind of stuff.

  7. Antisthenes
    February 17, 2017

    We must accept that Brexit has not happened yet and as that is in most peoples minds far into the future it will not be effecting economic performance. Behaviour has not yet changed the only real difference is the value of the pound has fallen which is a guaranteed fillip to the economy and the UK economic health was already good which we are currently benefiting from.

    Much evidence is now in about how membership of the EU affects us and how it will affect us post Brexit. A lot of which you have sourced. That evidence tells us that the advantages of non membership will far outweigh that of remaining in the EU. In fact remaining a member will in all likelihood be catastrophic. However Brexit is fraught with difficulties as some real but many imaginary problems are associated with it. Added to which there are many unknown factors at work like the state of other global economises health and the position in the business cycle at the time of exit. In any event Brexit will in the long term be a considerable benefit to the UK in the short term though it may come in for criticism as it will be blamed for all bad news.

  8. Lifelogic
    February 17, 2017

    Could be far better with a sense of direction towards a proper free market loving, low tax, low intervention, far smaller government, cheap energy agenda. Instead of this misguided higher tax, lefty direction we keep getting from May.

  9. hefner
    February 17, 2017

    Might I guess that JR is not the one doing the weekly groceries at Waitrose?

    Reply I do the shopping and vary where I shop to give all the local ones a try. It is wuite obvious shop prices have been stable over tge last year, but petrol and diesel have leapt up. I am also citing ONS figures

    1. acorn
      February 17, 2017

      hef, I’m confused! Bloomberg says”U.K. Retail Sales Unexpectedly Decline as Inflation Bites”

      Fortunately, cometh the hour cometh the man! Hail, Caesar! Hail, Tony!

      1. Quarterly
        February 17, 2017

        different time period

    2. handyhints
      February 17, 2017

      Do groceries online. Flexible evening delivery slot £1.oo. No brainer.

    3. John Finn
      February 18, 2017

      I agree with JR. Now retired, I do a “small shop” every day for fresh veg and other bits and pieces. Apart from the normal seasonal fluctuations there has been very little increase in prices. The weekly supermarket “big shop” is a bit more difficult to gauge because of the special offers but I haven’t noticed a significant change in the amount we spend.

      I do think its possible some shops “will try it on” with a few products. They’re well aware consumers have been “softened up” with non-stop inflation stories from the media for several months now, so they’ll be more prepared to use the ready made Brexit excuse to hike the prices on some items.

  10. Jack
    February 17, 2017

    JR you know full well the budget deficit isn’t large enough for strong retail sales to continue, and private sector deficit spending is extremely weak as a result of tight fiscal policy. There’s a good chance the private credit structure will collapse and we become like Italy or Japan, with permanent no growth.

    The solution is easy, huge payroll tax cuts to get the deficit up. Personally I think a deficit of 12% of GDP should be the minimum for the next few years, that would get real GDP growth up to about 6 to 8% annually, but any expansion of the fiscal deficit will bring the economy back to life.

    Again, though, the caveat here is maybe the weak GBP boosts external demand enough to produce some semblance of a decent economy, in which case growth might do ok (2-4%, which is terrible IMO but better than the Remainer economists believe).

  11. James neill
    February 17, 2017

    That’s it’re like the little boy whistling as he passes the graveyard just trying to keep his spirits up.

    Brexiteers should have no doubt but its going to happen..article 50 will be activated..what is not clear yet are the long term consequences..but it will be a matter for future genetations…

  12. Jerry
    February 17, 2017

    So how should we consider all the articles across the news media today [1] reporting ONS data showing how retail sales fell by 0.3% in January (rather than the expected 0.9% growth), perhaps we just need to tag not only these media outlets “perpetrators of Fake News” but the ONS as well?! Or perhaps we should just see such dairy entries for what they really are, rather raw (and flustered) on the hoof political spin-doctoring, trying to make bad news emanating from successive ONS reports more palatable, at least to the usual partisan ‘tifosi’ of the site…

    [1] and across the board, from the BBC to Sky news, from the Guardian to the Telegraph, and even the more specialist and even handed publication such as City AM

    1. Know-dice
      February 17, 2017

      I though they were saying at one stage that falling January retail sales could be related to heavy pre Christmas discounting, black Monday or is it Friday…etc?

      Can’t have cake and eat it you know…

    2. Edward2
      February 17, 2017

      The story in the Independent you quote confuses sales volume with sales values
      Your 0.3% is sales volumes
      The actual value of sales, which is what retailers are most interested in, is up.

      1. Jerry
        February 18, 2017

        @Edward2; An observation and a question to you,

        a/. I never cited the Independent, whilst I doubt that many at the City AM publication would get ‘confused’ even if staff at those newspaper titles found on the High Street might!

        b/. You appear to be admitting that inflation is indeed soaring (despite government denials), how else can sale volume fall but the value of those sales that do take place increase?

        1. Edward2
          February 18, 2017

          I know you didn’t “cite” that particular paper.
          It was their headline which you managed to copy almost word for word.
          They said, like you said “sales are down…”
          When actually they meant sales volumes, which like you they missed off.
          Actual sales values are up.
          Secondly inflation is not “soaring”
          It is still under the target set for the Bank of England by the Treasury.
          Sales volumes is a useful indicator looked at over a long period.
          But it’s overall sales values that matter.

          1. Jerry
            February 19, 2017

            @Edward2; It is you who really has failed to understand what is being said by the ONS, you also appear to be calibrating post Brexit profiteering (if your are correct about inflation) in your attempt to ‘massage’ bad news, oh well…

    3. libertarian
      February 17, 2017


      One of the problems with news and facts is that people such as yourself often dont understand what they are reading. Those of us actually in business can tell the difference in sales volumes ( number sold) with sales value ( how much is earned from the sale)

      While you’re here any thoughts on the outright lie told to the President of The USA by John Sopel of the BBC, you know where he said the BBC is Free, without explaining why there are currently 44 people in prison who didn’t want to pay to watch?

      1. Jerry
        February 18, 2017

        @libertarian; Oh right so the ONS are wrong? That is the only way in which the facts can be wrong and thus be misunderstood. The facts are, retail sales were down by 0.3%, this despite the expectation that there would be a rise in retail sale of 0.9%%, which if an accurate prediction makes the true real world fall in retail sales more like 1.2%. Also, as someone else has pointed out, those who deign soaring inflation (even when excluding motor fuel) obviously do not do their own shopping nor need to bother to check their bank accounts more than once a year – assuming they fill in their own Tax Returns.

        As for your rant, Walter, about the BBC. I do not know if BBC World television (or indeed any BBC World channels, local to just, North America) are FTA in the USA so can not answer your rather loaded question. As for those 44 people in prisons, no they are not in jail because they were watching the BBC, they are in jail because they broke the law.

        1. Edward2
          February 18, 2017

          Check again
          Sales volumes…not values

          1. Jerry
            February 19, 2017

            @Edwared2, Yes and the moon is made of cheese too, an old fairy-tale tells us so…

          2. libertarian
            February 19, 2017


            No point in trying to educate Jezza about the basics of business he is completely lost when it comes to things like this

            He thinks that the number of things sold is the same as the price paid and its all about cheese apparently

          3. Edward2
            February 19, 2017

            Did you actually check?

  13. Jack
    February 17, 2017

    Chinese retail sales were between 20 and 30% Year-over-Year for years, even now they’re at 10.9% when total new yuan loan growth is at a relatively low level compared to a few years ago.

    And JR tries to defend a UK retail sales reading of 1.5% on an annual basis. Lol.

    If the Chinese government keeps expanding the fiscal deficit and promoting massive private sector credit creation via state-owned banks, then aggregate demand will stay high enough to perhaps reach a point where they exceed our GDP per capita. It will definitely happen if we continue to bounce around 0-2% GDP growth as we have for 9 years now.

    1. Jack
      February 17, 2017

      I say “if” because China could follow IMF recommendations and restrict their deficit, etc. Also if they try to maintain their semi-fixed exchange rate they will find it hard to control interest rates the way a sovereign currency-issuer can, which could lead to some economic turmoil.

      China throughout the 2000s and early 2010s is still a great historical example of how easy it is to reach real GDP growth of 10-15% annually, just maintain demand via public or private sector credit expansion, or both (but China mainly relied on state bank lending).

  14. Lindsay McDougall
    February 19, 2017

    I have seen a BBC news item saying that UK retail sales have collapsed. What is going on?

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