UK retail sales growth in October was at its lowest for nearly a year excluding Easter as the economic climate continued to worry consumers, according to new data released today.
UK retail sales value dropped 0.1 per cent on a like-for-like (LFL) basis from the same month last year, when they declined 0.6 per cent on the preceding year.
Meanwhile, total sales were up 1.1 per cent compared with a 1.5 per cent rise in October 2011, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, and the slowdown was felt across all categories.
“Unfortunately it looks like the modest sales revival we saw in September was something of a false dawn,” conceded BRC Director General Stephen Robertson.
“And October’s poor performance wasn’t a one off. Year-to-date average growth hasn’t outpaced inflation meaning overall sales volumes going backwards.
“Within that, October’s online, non-food, results were especially poor. The last three months now include the two weakest growth rates we’ve recorded in four years.
“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.
“Half-term fell later this year, so lower footfall translated into patchy performances across the categories.
“This underwhelming showing means there’s all to play for as Christmas approaches.”
Food sales saw a three-month average increase of 3.4 per cent although, once inflation is taken into consideration, volume growth for food was static.
Such caution on the high streets will serve as a warning to retailers as Christmas approaches, believes David McCorquodale, Head of Retail at KPMG.
“The recession may officially be over but it will take a little longer for consumers to feel they can spend freely again,” he said.
“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.”