Press releases

Deloitte comments on ONS retail sales

19 November 2021

Commenting on today’s ONS retail sales figures, Oliver Vernon-Harcourt, head of retail at Deloitte, said:

“The half-term break and popularity of staycations in October have kicked off 2021’s ‘Golden Quarter’, with retail sales values and volumes both rising month-on-month by 1.6% and 0.8%, respectively.

“Concerns around stock shortages have encouraged early preparations for the festive period, though purchases so far indicate a mixed bag of goods. In a sign of normalisation, food categories fell -0.3% month-on-month, despite consumers stocking up on Halloween treats and other foodstuffs for bonfire and Diwali celebrations.

“However, non-food sales were up month-on-month by 4.2%. With larger Christmas gatherings expected as consumers intend to make up for 2020’s lost celebrations, we could see non-food sales accelerate further in the coming weeks, as consumers look for toys, partywear, and other seasonal goods. Clothing alone saw an increase of 6.2% in volume compared to the previous month, edging closer to pre-pandemic levels.

“With 39% of consumers buying fewer new goods than they were pre-pandemic, it’s interesting to see consumers purchasing more second-hand items this month.

“Indicating a continuation of lockdown shopping habits, online sales remained high in October, accounting for 27.3% of all retail sales. Whilst above pre-pandemic levels, this marks a slowdown and the lowest proportion since March 2020.

Consumers hold off for Black Friday deals

“Consumers have fired the starting gun on Christmas but, with Black Friday deals looming, some will be holding off for promotions. Big ticket items are likely to be the focus, with some electrical retailers already teasing deals ahead of time.

“However, Black Friday discounting is unlikely to be as deep or extensive as in previous years as retailers delicately balance stock levels. Some retailers have already ruled themselves out from participating at all. With fewer deals around than shoppers have become accustomed to over the years, some may find themselves buying more items at full price.

“The good news is that retailers are working hard to make stock available and avoid disappointment by pushing more items in-store. This strategy is helping curtail any temporary fulfilment issues with home deliveries and may see more consumers head to physical stores to get into the Christmas spirit. After last year’s closures, many retailers will be looking forward to welcoming shoppers once again with special in-store Christmas experiences for the season.”


Notes to Editors

About Deloitte

In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NSE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK's leading professional services firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

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