UK retail sales volumes declined by 0.2% in September, following an upwardly revised 0.6% decrease in August. Despite the drop in September, volumes remained 4.2% above their pre-COVID pandemic levels from February 2020. Since non-essential retailing reopened in April, retail sales volumes have decreased every consecutive month, and have now reached the longest period of consecutive monthly declines in the series history.

Non-food stores recorded a 1.4% decline in sales volume in September, owing to drops in household goods stores (-9.3%), such as furniture and lighting stores, and other non-food stores (-1.7%), such as sports equipment stores.

Automotive fuel sales volumes increased by 2.9%, owing to increased demand near the end of September. Volumes were 1.8% higher than their pre-COVID levels. However, some fuel retailers noted issues with deliveries and shortages, hurting their sales.

Following a decline of 1.4% the previous month, food store sales increased by 0.6%, and were 3.9% higher than pre-COVID levels.

Despite the loosening of COVID restrictions in summer, in-store retail sales remain subdued. The proportion of online retail sales increased MoM from 27.9% to 28.1%, significantly higher than the pre-COVID level of 19.7%.