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October retail sales show surprise jump

The Office for National Statistics has reported that retail sales volumes in October rose more than expected by 0.6%

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

October retail sales show surprise jump

Approximately £26.8 billion was spent on retail goods during October 2011 compared to the £25.4 billion reported in the same month of 2010.

The figures show that the biggest contributor to the sales growth was non-store retailing, which includes e-commerce, mail order, telephone and automated sales.

The ONS said that the fourth quarter of the year had started off much better than expected with feedback from retailers saying that the monthly increase was a result of pre-Christmas sales and in-store promotions.

Commenting on the news, the British Retail Consortium said the ONS figues painted an overly rosy picture. BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "Most retailers won't recognise the overly positive picture being painted by these ONS results. The reality is disposable incomes are down on a year ago and customers are cutting back.

"Even food sales are suffering as people cut back or switch to cheaper brands in an effort to balance their household budgets. Stores are competing hard for what customer spending is available but consumers are overwhelmingly gloomy. Sales that happen come at the cost of reduced margins as retailers cut prices while facing higher business costs."

The BRC called for the Chancellor George Osborne to support businesses by scrapping the planned increase in fuel duty and reducing the potential 5.6% rise in business rates. 

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