Retail sales bounced back in January

There was a 3.4% increase in the volume of goods bought by UK consumers in January 2024, following a record fall of 3.3% in December 2023.

This was the largest monthly rise since April 2021 and returned volumes to November 2023 levels, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

However, continued high inflation meant that consumers spent more for less, with the value of sales growing by 3.9%.

Sales volumes grew in all retail sectors except clothing stores, with food stores such as supermarkets contributing most to the increase.

Household goods stores, sports shops and department stores were among those reporting robust trading due to January sales promotions, said Heather Bovill, deputy director for surveys and economic indicators at the ONS. Fuel sales also increased following a drop in prices at the pump.

Across the three months to January, sales volumes declined by 0.2% when compared with the previous three months — but this was the smallest fall since August 2023.

Sales volumes rose by 0.7% between January 2023 and January 2024, but were still 1.3% below the pre-pandemic level.