UK Consumers Made More Purchases In January, But The Economy Is Still In General Decline

Although British consumers unexpectedly increased their shopping in January, the overall picture still shows weak demand from households struggling with inflation and turning more to retailer sales to make ends meet.

Sales volumes increased by 0.5% from December, marking only the second month-over-month improvement since August 2021, according to official data released on Friday. According to a Reuters poll of economists, sales decreased by 0.3% last month.

According to the Office for National Statistics, fuel sales increased in January as a result of lower prices, and online retailers, jewelers, cosmetic shops, and carpet and furniture shops all benefited from discounts.

Sales of food stores also decreased as shoppers looked for cheaper goods and made fewer purchases, while clothing store sales abruptly dropped back after rising for four months.

Instead of the initially anticipated 1.0% decline, sales volumes in the crucial Christmas month of December fell more sharply than previously reported, falling by 1.2% from November.

“After December’s steep fall, retail sales picked up slightly in January, although the general trend remains one of decline,” ONS Director of Economic Statistics Darren Morgan said in a statement.

Sales decreased for the tenth year in a row, year over year, by 5.1%, the longest stretch since the global financial crisis of 2008–2009.

Volumes were 1.4% lower than they had been prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the weight of the spike in inflation, it is widely anticipated that the British economy will enter a recession this year. Additionally, last month’s consumer confidence index from the polling company GfK revealed that households were almost at their most pessimistic since at least 1974.

Immediately following the release of the data, sterling slightly declined against the dollar and the euro.

Inflation appears to be leveling off, according to the Bank of England, and data released on Wednesday showed that the consumer price index declined more than anticipated despite still being more than five times the BoE’s target at 10.1%.

Additionally, it is much higher than wage growth, which reduces consumer spending power.

Household energy costs may decrease by the summer, which would lessen the demand drag even though they would still be extremely high compared to levels prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, James Smith, an economist with ING, warned that the likelihood of home price declines and higher mortgage rates ran the risk of escalating consumer gloom.

“Overall, we’re expecting a very mild recession through the first half of this year,” he said.

When he delivers his annual budget statement on March 15, Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt has ruled out another significant round of support for households, and the BoE is likely to soon cause more hardship for borrowers.

Most analysts and investors anticipate that the central bank will increase interest rates once more, this time by a quarter of a percentage point in March. It may repeat this in May, raising the bank rate to 4.5%, the highest level since 2008.

Consumers are feeling the pinch, and businesses are vying for the business of budget-conscious customers.

According to recent market data, German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl have performed especially well as consumers look to offset grocery inflation, which reached a record 16.7% in the four weeks leading up to Jan. 22.

This week, Aldi’s British division announced that it would hire over 6,000 people.

(Adapted from

Categories: Economy & Finance, Geopolitics, Regulations & Legal, Strategy, Sustainability

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: