Like-for-like retail sales flat in October
Like-for-like retail sales were flat in the UK in October compared to the same month last year as the unseasonably warm weather impacted sales of winter clothing.
Figures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG show that total sales rose by 1.4% which was an improvement on the previous month and beat the three-month average growth of 1%.
Furniture and home were the best performing categories in October as consumers prioritised household items over fashion.
Over the last three months, food showed a decline of 1.4% and reported a twelve-month average decline for the second consecutive month, at -0.4%.
Meanwhile, non-food reported growth of 2.8% over the three months to October 2014, underperforming its twelve-month average of 3.7%.
The BRC said retailers’ preparations around stocking items for Halloween celebrations meant there was a significant year-on-year increase in Halloween related sales. The impact was also felt with an improved three month average in sales of food although not enough to stem the trend felt over the last six months.
Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 15.4% in October compared to a year earlier. This was the highest online growth since Christmas 2013. The non-food online penetration rate was 18.2% in October, 1.7 percentage points higher than in October 2013.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “The good news is that overall retail sales continued to grow although not as fast as this time last year. Retailers have thought creatively about marketing solutions to incentivise sales of winter merchandise during the warmer weather. For example the use of analytics has enabled loyal customers to be offered targeted flash reductions with sale items being made available both in store and online.
“It remains to be seen whether the Christmas period will start to provide better fortunes for food, however there are positive signs that beauty and homeware items traditionally popular for gifting are selling increasingly well in the build-up to the festive period.”
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