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Retail sales dip in October

October UK retail sales were 0.1% lower on a like-for-like basis from the same month a year ago as cash-strapped shoppers limited their spending to essential items.


Retail sales dip in October

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG revealed that total sales grew by 1.1% in the month against a 1.5% rise in October 2011. Excluding Easter, this was the lowest growth in total sales since November 2011.

The slowdown from last month was felt across all categories, including online sales. With a three month average of 3.4%, food was more resilient than non-food. However, once inflation is stripped out, volume growth for food was stagnant.

Commenting on the data BRC director general Stephen Robertson said:  "Unfortunately it looks like the modest sales revival we saw in September was something of a false dawn. The disappointing figures are a reminder of the difficult economic realities many are still facing. Falling consumer confidence means people are limiting spending to essential items and are cautious about committing to big-ticket and discretionary buying."

Robertson also pointed to the fact that the year-to-date average retail sales growth had not  outpaced inflation, which meant that overall volumes were "going backwards".

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: "The recession may officially be over but it will take a little longer for consumers to feel they can spend freely again. Retailers are holding less stock than a year ago and may choose to be cautious with pre-Christmas sales in order to protect margins. However, the disappointing sales figures for October indicate that winning share of the Christmas wallet will be just as competitive over the next two months as it was last year."


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