October UK retail sales marked by consumer caution

Date : 06 November 2018

The latest release from the British Retail Consortium Retail Sales Monitor (BRC-RSM), for October, show that UK sales grew by 1.3% in the month, underpinned by like-for-like growth of just 0.1%.  Though food and grocery sales remained the biggest contributor to growth, non-food sales also proved more positive than in recent months, especially in the clothing sector.

Three-month food & grocer trend slowing

Over the period August to October food & grocery sales were up 2.3%, with like-for-likes running at 1.2%.  However, this is now behind the 12-month average growth rate of 3.5%, owing much to a deceleration in inflation, which in October fell back to its lowest level since June.  Adjusted for inflation three month 'real' (volume) growth in food & grocery stood at 0.6%.

Online non-food growth picks up again

After slowing progressively through the summer, online non-food sales returned ahead of the 12-month average in October, with growth of 7.6%, up from 5.4% in September.  Clothing was the biggest contributor to this acceleration, boosting the online share in this sector by some three percentage points to 32%.

Jon Woolven, Strategy & Innovation Director, IGD commented:

'After a strong run earlier this year, food and grocery sales have settled into a new pattern of modest growth, broadly in line with inflation.  The run up to Halloween delivered its usual boost, on a similar scale to previous years.  At this critical stage in the Brexit process, shopper confidence is in the balance.  The number expecting their personal finances to deteriorate has risen over the last month to 29% from 28%, but those anticipating higher food prices have fallen to 77% from 81%.'