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 2017, consumers in the UK spent around £406 billion in retail purchases.


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

• 39p was spent in food stores,

• 42p was spent in non-food stores and

• 10p on automotive fuel.

• The remainder was spent in other types of retailers, such as market stores or mail


Contribution to the economy

In 2017, the retail sector as a whole contributed £194 billion to UK economic output (11% of the total), measured by Gross Value Added or GVA3 ; this was an increase from £190 billion in 2016.


 In 2016, the sector employed 4.9 million people (20.5% of the UK total), and contained 374,000 businesses (15.5% of the UK total).

Economic output

In 2007, the retail sector grew faster than the UK economy. However, as the downturn began in late-2007, the retail sector declined more quickly and more deeply than the whole economy. At its trough in Q3 2008, output in the retail sector fell by 4.2% compared with the previous year - output from the whole economy fell by 1.5% in that

NB.  The above information has been extracted from the House of Commons Briefing Paper entitled 'The Retail Industry - Stats and Policy'   - March 2018. 


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