Inflation in the UK will add £18.2 billion to non-food retail sales

February 9, 2023 by
Frank Calviño

Inflation in the UK keeps rising, pushing the prices of non-food retail sales upwards. This is the result of research by Metapack, ShipStation, and Retail Economics that shows shoppers may have to pay more for less in 2023 as inflation adds £18.2 billion to UK non-food sales despite volumes decreasing by 4.9%. 

UK non-food retail sales are expected to hit £249 billion in 2023. Still, the 2.6% increase, or an additional £18.2 billion of spending on the previous year, will be driven by rising consumer prices. 

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The E-commerce Delivery Benchmark Report 2023, commissioned by Metapack’s operating company, Auctane, in partnership with economics consultancy, Retail Economics, included a survey of over 730 retail businesses across eight international markets.

 It found that 80% were planning to increase the price of products, with 40% suggesting rising costs will be the biggest challenge in 2023. 

Consumers' concern and shifting shopping habits. 

According to the report, consumers are concerned about the outlook for the economy and their finances over the year ahead, with 66% of consumers in the UK citing inflation as their biggest concern. 

As a result, 74% of UK consumers plan to change their buying behaviors, with 34% stating they would only make purchases when necessary and 29% intending to delay or reduce spending. 

The research highlights that inflation is expected to add almost £260 billion ($319 billion) to retail sales in 2023 across the eight international markets included in the research.

Category and channel shifts are driven by inflation 

Shopping behavior will diverge across income groups and categories. With this in mind, luxury brands and discounters are likely to outperform at opposite ends of the market, leaving mid-tier retailers squeezed. But even for the most affluent, our research highlights that 61% still plan to tighten or cut discretionary spending over the year ahead. 

Digging into this further, the research reveals furniture and homewares will be most impacted, with 43% of UK consumers set to delay or reduce spending on these products. 

Following the report, 35% plan to look to switch to cheaper brands when it comes to buying clothes, with 32% stating they would look for cheaper alternatives when it comes to electrical items. 

One in three UK consumers plans to spend as usual on health and beauty products - more than any other sector - with an additional 14% preferring to trade down rather than purchase less often.  

Conflicting visions regarding inflation in the UK 

The report also shows that Consumer sentiment and economic projections are generally at odds with retailers’ expectations for the year ahead. 

Of those small enterprise retailers surveyed, 80% expect order volumes to be the same or higher (59%) in 2023, with a third anticipating order volume to be 10% higher or more.  

Andrew Norman, General Manager at Metapack: “Keeping costs down will be the top priority for both retailers and consumers in 2023. As our research highlights, everybody will be looking to get the most bang for their buck, from operating costs to delivery costs and product costs. 

From offering a more excellent choice of delivery options and having a resilient carrier infrastructure to providing delightful delivery experiences, we believe retailers who can provide the most value will be the ones who come out on top.”

Will inflation in the UK fall during 2023?

According to the Bank of England's official position on the matter: yes, it will. 

There are a few reasons why we expect inflation to fall quickly this year. First, wholesale energy prices have fallen a lot. In Europe, they have halved over the past three months. You may not have felt the impact of this on your bills yet. But this change will help to bring inflation down.

Second, we expect a sharp fall in the price of imported goods. That’s because some production difficulties businesses have faced are starting to ease. 

Third, as people have less money to spend, we expect less demand for goods and services in the UK. All this should mean that the prices of many things will not rise as quickly as they have done.

There are signs that inflation might now have turned a corner and begun to fall a little. We need to make sure it continues to fall and stay low.

We expect inflation to begin to fall from the middle of this year and be around 4% by the end of the year. We expect it to continue falling towards our 2% target after that.

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