The retail industry: statistics and policy

Published 20 May 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.

The retail industry contributed £180 billion to UK economic output in 2014, 11% of the total.

In March 2015, consumers in the UK spent around £34 billion. For every £1 spent in the retail sector (online and in shops), 42p was spent in food stores and 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.

Summary of contents

This note sets out the key statistics on the retail industry in the UK including the value and volume of sales, the proportion of internet sales, and employment and business statistics for the retail industry.

The note also sets out Government policy aimed at supporting the industry.


Commons Briefing papers SN06186

Author: Chris Rhodes

Topics: Industry, Service industries

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