The UK retail industry
The retail industry in the UK consists of over 300,000 separate businesses. It employs over 3 million people representing over 8% of all UK jobs, and provides customers with important goods and services, meeting needs and aspirations. In 2019, retail sales in the UK were worth £439 billion. For every pound spent, approximately:
- 39 pence was spent in food shops;
- 12 pence was spent in clothing shops;
- 9 pence was spent on automotive fuel;
- 8 pence was spent in household goods shops (including electronics and furniture stores);
- The remainder was spent in a range of other types of shops, and in non-store retail.
Data from 2018 reports online retail accounting for over 20% of retail sales, a share that will have increased markedly since then, particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the purposes of this roadmap, the retail industry is defined as the businesses involved with the sale of new and used goods to the general public for personal or household consumption or utilisation. The retail sector includes shops, department stores, supermarkets, market stalls, door-to-door sales and internet retailers. Sales of automobiles are excluded.
 Retail sector in the UK (2018). House of Commons Briefing Paper.