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The retail industry: statistics and policy

Published Friday, October 2, 2015

Key data on the retail sector in the UK. Government policy and pressures facing the industry are also discussed.

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Retail in the UK

The retail sector involves spending by consumers in shops and online. Supporting the retail sector, the wholesale sector involves those businesses that supply shops.

In 2014, consumers in the UK spent around £378 billion.

For every £1 spent in the retail sector (online and in shops),

  • 42p was spent in food stores,
  • 41p was spent in non-food stores and
  • 11p on automotive fuel.
  • The remainder was spent in other types of retailers, such as market stores or mail order catalogues.

The sector has come under pressure in recent years in a number of ways, including from the growth and evolution of supermarkets, online retailing and the recent recession.

This note sets out the key data on the retail sector in the UK, explores recent trends and outlines Government policy in this area.

The Portas Review of the High Street was published in December 2011 and made a number of recommendations across a range of policy areas including planning, transport, and local government finance.  In February 2012 the Government announced a competition for areas to be “Portas Pilots” to test some of the recommendations.  27 towns were chosen act as Portas Pilots.



Commons Briefing papers SN06186

Author: Chris Rhodes

Topics: Industry, Service industries

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