UK retail sales beat analysts’ expectations

UK retail sales have grown for a sixth consecutive month in October.

October saw retail sales grow by 1.2%, which was ahead of the 0% expected, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Since February, retail sales have increased by 6.7%.

Online sales have jumped by 52.8%, whilst in-store sales were down by 3.3%.

“Despite the introduction of some local lockdowns in October, retail sales continued its recent run of strong growth,” Jonathan Athow, the deputy national statistician for economic statistics.

“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.”

The only sectors that are below pre-pandemic levels are clothing stores and fuel.

Analysts have warned that this could be the last growth in sales ahead of the new restrictions.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “There was a recovery in almost every category of the sector, and measuring the period to 31 October, these figures don’t include the last minute rush to the high street after the second lockdown was announced.

“In fact, the only category to show a material decline in sales was fashion, with less demand for occasionwear and workwear continuing to hit an already beleaguered part of the market.

“The closure of non-essential stores and slump in consumer sentiment earlier this month will severely hamper the sector with little over a month to go to Christmas and Black Friday just a week away.

“Looking ahead to December, with online delivery capacity already stretched to its limits, retailers will be hoping for a swift lifting of lockdown restrictions and that consumers continue to show they can bounce back into spending mode, as they did after the first lockdown was lifted in June.”