The retail sector has seen more tricks than treats, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, for the month of October 2018.
In October, UK retail sales increased by 0.1% on a like-for-like basis from October 2017, when they had decreased 1.0% from the preceding year.
– On a total basis, sales increased 1.3% in October, against an increase of 0.2% in October 2017. This is above the 3-month average of 1.1%, but below the 12-month average of 1.4%.
– Over the three months to October, In-store sales of Non-Food items declined 2.0% on a Total basis and 3.3% on a Like-for-like basis. This is above the 12-month Total average decline of 2.4%.
– Over the three months to October, Food sales increased 1.2% on a like-for-like basis and 2.3% on a total basis. This is below the 12-month Total average growth of 3.5%.
– Over the three-months to October, Non-Food retail sales in the UK decreased 1.0% on a like-for-like basis and increased 0.1% on a Total basis. This above the 12-month Total average decrease of 0.2%. October Non-Food sales saw growth for the first time in 4 months.
– Online sales of Non-Food products grew 7.6% in October, against a growth of 4.0% in October 2017, the lowest growth of 2017. This is above the 3-month and 12-month averages of 6.7% and 7.4% respectively. Online penetration rate increased from 25.7% to 27.6% in October 2018.
Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail | KPMG says: “October kicks off the all-important golden quarter, with some retailers earning the majority of their annual profits in these months alone. But with October’s like-for-like sales flat lining at 0.1%, it was a bit of a non-starter.
“Demand was mainly dampened by continued economic uncertainty, as well as the anticipation for the deep discounting ahead – especially now that Black Friday weekend has become such a permanent feature.
“Grocery sales – which have been a ray of light – actually showed signs of restraint. However, clothing sales were more promising, with the colder weather towards the end of the month prompting a wardrobe rethink.
“The Budget highlighted efforts to relieve some of the pressures on the high street, but didn’t go far enough to address the concerns of many retailers. With the potential implications of a hard Brexit added to the mix, retailers now need to juggle contingency planning alongside the busiest time of year.”
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive at British Retail Consortium comments: “Overall, retail sales growth remains low by historical standards. Sales in October saw only a slight uplift on the previous year, as cautious consumer spending continues into the final quarter of the year.
“Brighter weather and the anticipation of better deals in the Black Friday November sales have dampened demand for discretionary purchases. Moreover, low real wage growth over an extended period has left consumers with less money in their pocket, squeezing retailers’ margins in the face of higher costs.
“Furthermore, the very real possibility of a no-deal Brexit presents a huge challenge for retailers who must contend with the prospect of 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 comes 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.
Food & Drink sector performance, Jon Woolven, Strategy and Innovation Director at IGD says: “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%.”