UK retailers have been hit by a surprise 0.1% decrease in sales in October despite it traditionally signalling the start of Christmas period spending. City analysts had predicted a month-on-month increase because of large discounting by retailers to entice shoppers in.  The statistics show that this was the worst monthly sales value since April 2018.

The data shows that consumers were hesitant to spend leading up to the proposed October Brexit deadline with further reasons behind the decrease being the recent decrease in employment and wage growth which is steering people away from spending money on higher value items.

Capital Economics thought that clothing sales would increase in October due to the cold and wet weather, but in fact they decreased by 1% compared to September.

Sales fell in all retail sectors except food stores. Thomas Pugh an economist for the consultancy Capital Economics said: “In fact, the only bright spots were a 2% increase in department store sales volumes, which may have been helped by an early start to Christmas discounting. A 1.5% increase in fuel sales also helped increase the monthly figures. Excluding fuel, retail sales fell by an even sharper 0.3% month on month.”

 

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Pete Wilmer

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