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Consumers remain cautious despite October retail uplift

Retail sales in the UK rose slightly in October, new figures from the BRC KPMG Retail Sales Monitor show.

Sales increased 1.3% in October on a total basis – above the three-month average of 1.1%, but below the 12-month average of 1.4%.

October’s like-for-like retail sales increased by just 0.1%  year on year.

Non-food retail sales in the three months to October decreased by 1% on a like-for-like basis, and increased 0.1% on a total basis. It was the first increase in the category for four months.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said retail sales growth continues to be low by historical standards, while consumer spending remains cautious.

“Brighter weather and the anticipation of better deals in the Black Friday November sales have dampened demand for discretionary purchases,” she said, and added that the low growth of consumers’ wages over an extended period has left shoppers “with less money in their pocket, squeezing retailers’ margins in the face of high costs”.

Dickinson said the prospect of a no-deal Brexit means retailers could be left facing higher import prices and further drops to consumer demand: “Time is running out and it is essential that the Government, the EU and the UK Parliament come to an agreement on the backstop and delivers a Brexit deal detail which gives confidence to both consumers and retailers, and avoids squeezing real wages further.”

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