October retail sales up

Retail sales by value in October were up 3% on last year according to the Office of National Statistics demonstrating that Christmas shopping is well under way.

Shopping

Volume sales were 3.4% ahead of October 2008 and sales were up 0.4% month on month.

Growth was driven by food and sales at predominantly food stores saw 3.9% growth while non-food stores saw only a 0.9% increase.

Non-food sales were driven by clothing and footwear, boosted in part by fancy dress sales for Halloween.

Sales volumes in non-store retailing and repair were up 15.8% on last year suggesting the continued growth in online retail.

Richard Lowe, Head of Retail and Wholesale, Barclays says: “Christmas’ influence is clearly evident on the high street, and this may indeed prove to be a season of much needed joy for the retail sector. The mixed views of the past few months now appear to be converging, indicating positive movement in sales between September and October.”

“Both shoppers and retailers will be carefully considering the forthcoming rise in VAT as we move ever closer to a percentage hike in the New Year. Christmas shoppers will be looking not only at their gift lists this year, but also big-ticket items which they may wish to snap-up prior to the forthcoming sales tax increase. In contrast to the sudden cut in VAT late last year, retailers have been aware that it would be reinstated to at least 17.5 per cent since then, and with stocks now under much tighter control their eyes will be fixed upon margin management.”

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