Online shopping

UK retail sales weakened in February as online shopping fell and people returned to the office

By Will Horner

UK retail sales fell slightly in February as the easing of Covid-19 restrictions led to a drop in online shopping, while spending on returning to work and socializing increased .

Last month, retail sales volumes fell 0.3% from January, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast retail sales would decline 0.8%.

A decline in non-store retail, which includes online shopping, was partly behind the drop. Non-store sales fell 4.8% after rising through December and January, although volumes remained a third above their pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.

Grocery store sales also fell 0.2% on lower sales at liquor and tobacco stores, which may be linked to the reopening of pubs and restaurants in the UK, it said. the ONS.

As retail sales fell for the whole of the month, the figures paint a picture of UK consumers reverting to pre-pandemic habits such as increased socializing and returning to offices.

Non-food store sales increased 0.6%, driven by strong growth in clothing sales, which rose 13.2%. Motor fuel sales rose 3.6% due to increased travel.

The share of online retail sales fell to 27.8%, its lowest level since March 2020 at the start of the pandemic in Europe.

Compared to the previous year, retail sales in February increased by 7%. Economists had forecast an increase of 6.2%.

Excluding the fuel contribution, retail sales were down 0.7% in the month, but up 4.6% year-on-year.

In January, retail sales rose 1.9% month-on-month, unchanged.

Write to Will Horner at [email protected]