“Anaemic” October sees worst non-food sales on record


Retail sales throughout October were dragged down by the worst non-food sales performance on record, despite food sales continuing to benefit from inflation.

According to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, sales in the four weeks to October 28 dropped one per cent compared to a 1.7 per cent increase a year prior.

On a total basis they edged up 0.2 per cent throughout the month, falling from a 2.4 per cent increase last October and marking the lowest level of growth since May.

The “meagre month” suffered from dwindling non-food sales, seeing the poorest performance since January 2011 when non-food records began.

In the three months to October non-food like-for-like sales dropped 0.4 per cent, while increasing 0.1 per cent on a total basis.

In-store non-food total sales also dropped 2.2 per cent alongside a 2.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

“Clothing sales were particularly hard hit,” KPMG’s head of retail Paul Martin said.

“After a brief uptick, fashion sales reverted back to the dreary theme we have seen for a number of months this year. Unseasonably warm weather last month will not have helped, but this is unlikely to be the only reason the new ranges are proving unpopular.

“Overall growth online was lacklustre at best, although health and beauty products continued to stand out as a strong performer.”

Although online non-food sales did see growth of four per cent, this was well below the three-month average of 8.7 per cent, again marking the lowest rate of growth since records began on 2012.

Food sales painted a slightly more positive picture with total sales increasing 3.7 per cent in the three months to October, above the 12-month average of 3.2 per cent.

Institute Grocery Distribution‎ chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said: “Food and grocery sales have remained buoyant with another month of above inflation growth, perhaps benefiting from cutbacks elsewhere in household spending.

“However, with 77 per cent of shoppers expressing concern about the state of the economy and 79 per cent about living costs, a mood of caution prevails.

“A fifth (20 per cent) say they will focus more on saving money in their food and grocery shopping in the year ahead – the record highest level since September 2016.”

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