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Boost for UK shops as sales rise 0.5% in January

Rebecca Goodman
Written By:
Rebecca Goodman

Retail sales increased by 0.5% in January, after falling 1.2% in December, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The post-Christmas increase has been put down to shoppers waiting to buy items in the January sales.

The total number of sales for the month was down 5.1% when compared to January 2022 and 1.4% below pre-coronavirus levels in February 2020. 

Online sales also fell to 25% in January, from 25.7% in December, but remained above pre-covid levels.

The main reason for the fall in sales is the rising cost of living and soaring inflation, which is currently at 10.1%.  

More shoppers buy petrol as food sales fall

There was a jump of 1.7% in sales of fuel, following a 0.3% rise in December, as the price of petrol and diesel continued to fall.  

Yet despite fuel prices falling for the last three months, it has been predicted the price is about to start rising as wholesale prices increased by 2p for petrol and 3p for diesel in January.

Food sales fell 0.5% in January, after a fall of 0.7% in December. The ONS said this is because people are continuing to buy less amid the cost-of-living crisis and rising food prices.

It comes as Aldi has been voted the cheapest supermarket of the year for January and announced it was hiring 6,000 more staff as part of an expansion plan. 

Sales at non-food shops were up 0.6% for January, after a fall of 2.5% in December and they still remained 2.6% below pre-covid levels.

‘Prices creeping up every week’

Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell, said: “When your money isn’t stretching as far as it did, it makes sense to wait for the sales you know are coming. 

“Many families decided to cut back on their Christmas gift giving and there will also be plenty of people who chose to give cash with the expectation that their children or other family members could treat themselves to the things they really wanted at a price that looked much nicer.

“Inflation might be falling but it’s taking its sweet time and even with that cooling breeze households are getting used to the new normal; a world where living standards have been eroded and the price of pretty much everything seems to creep up every week.”