Volume shows slight growth in October retail sales, but issues persist

In Industry Comment, Industry News On

The latest retail sales statistics for October revealed slight growth – but this was seemingly just a bump in the night, according to one retail expert.

The key findings from the Retail Statistics showed the underlying pattern in the retail industry in October 2017, as suggested by the three-month on three-month measure is one of growth, with the quantity bought increasing by 0.9%.

The quantity bought in October 2017 increased by 0.3% compared with September 2017; non-food stores, in particular second-hand goods stores (charity shops, auction houses, antiques and fine art dealers) provided the largest contribution to this growth.

The longer-term picture as shown by the year-on-year growth rate shows the quantity bought fell by 0.3% in comparison with a strong October 2016; food stores provided the largest contribution to this fall.

Average store prices increased by 3.1% compared with October 2016, with the largest contribution from food stores where average prices rose by 3.5%, the largest year-on-year price increase since September 2013.

Online sales values increased year-on-year by 10.7%, accounting for approximately 16.9% of all retail spending.

Accountancy firm Wilkins Kennedy partner and head of retail and wholesale Phil Mullis said: “Overall there is still a downward trend, despite a small increase in quantity bought. Prices are increasing due to the rise in inflation – and the full effects of this are possibly yet to take hold. Plus, we have marginal wage growth keeping disposable income spend down.

“It is likely that the small growth splurge was due to seasonal spends, and if so, it will be interesting to see how the figures hold up after Christmas. However, unless there is considerable wage growth, it is unlikely that any spend increases will be sustainable.

“As the golden quarter continues, let’s see how any Black Friday, Cyber Monday and subsequent Christmas spending will impact the figures.”

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