October sales boosted by shoppers stocking up early for Christmas

ONS figures find shoppers stocking up for Christmas in October
The ONS found online sales now account for almost 30% of all retail sales.
// Retail sales up almost 6% year-on-year
// The ONS reports sixth month of consecutive growth for retail sales in October
// Early Christmas shopping and widespread discounting attributed to autumn boost in sales

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found retail sales volumes in October rose by 1.2 per cent, marking the sixth consecutive month of growth.

Retail sales were 5.8 per cent higher than a year before, suggesting that consumers had started their Christmas shopping early this year, thanks to discounting measures from stores.

Taking a snapshot of the industry mid-coronavirus, the ONS found retail sales last month were 6.7 per cent higher than in February 2020, before the pandemic had begun to impact everyday life in the UK.

READ MORE: Retail sales rise for 5th month in a row

Across retail’s sectors, demand for clothing and fuel in October remained below its pre-lockdown level, largely attributed to the restrictions in place for non-essential stores during lockdown earlier in the year, followed by restricted footfall on high streets due to local lockdowns as 2020 progressed.

Purchases made online, through mail order or via other non-store outlets are defined by the ONS as non-store retailing, a sector that continued to strengthen its hold on the industry in October, with non-store retail volume sales coming in 44.9 per cent higher last month that their levels in February.

The ONS found online sales now account for 28.5 per cent of all retail sales, rising from 27.6 per cent in September.

“Despite the introduction of some local lockdowns in October, retail sales continued its recent run of strong growth,” ONS director general for economic statistics Jonathan Athow said.

“Feedback from shops suggested some consumers may have brought forward their Christmas shopping, ahead of potential further restrictions. Online stores also saw strong sales, boosted by widespread offers.

“However, the slow recovery in clothing sales has stalled after five consecutive months of increased sales.”

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