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Retail sales up 2.6% in October

Retail sales grew more strongly in October after slowing down in September, with much of the growth driven by computer games, gadgets, home accessories and textiles.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Retail sales up 2.6% in October

Figures from the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor show that total sales increased by 2.6% year-on-year compared to a 2.4% rise September which was the weakest growth of the year. On a like-for-like basis sales edged up 0.8% in October. 

The BRC said the three-month average total growth of 2.8% was much closer aligned to the 12-month average of 2.7%, suggesting a more sustainable level had been reached. 

Food sales growth during the last three months averaged 20% – below recent levels of inflation – indicating shrinking volumes. Clothing experienced a decline in total sales for the first time since March, affected by unseasonably warm weather.

Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 12.1% in October versus a year earlier. The online penetration rate was 18.3% in October, the highest level ever recorded by the monitor over 23 months. 

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said the growth was heading in the right again after a disappointing slowdown in September. She added: “Much of the improvement was driven by sustained demand for new games and gadgets, and there was also a strong showing for home accessories and textiles. In contrast, clothing sales fell for the first time since March, suggesting that many customers prioritised leisure and home improvements over refreshing their wardrobes until more autumnal conditions took hold. 

"Consumer confidence paused in October, and while conditions remain challenging, the signs are that customers are managing their budgets well while allowing some leeway for occasional treats. Retailers will be looking to respond to this appetite for good value with a little luxury here and there in their promotions and product offerings for the Christmas period." 

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: "October was another difficult month for retailers reminding us that recovery is a slow, relentless slog. Whilst the summer months hinted at increased consumer confidence, retailers will struggle to maintain a sustained sales recovery until wage growth outpaces price inflation. While confidence may lead consumers to browse, it's cash that's needed in the tills.”

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