Miranda Dobson

Retail sales drop 0.6% in October

Trends in the retail sector are showing steady growth in volumes according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

In comparison with October 2011, sales increased by 0.6% last month, however ONS warned that volumes had been relatively flat since 2007.

Consumer spend fell between August and September, while prices are estimated to have risen by 0.9% last month in line with the Consumer Price Index, which rose by 2.7% in October.

Online sales were up 11% year-on-year, while the amount of money spent online was found to account for approximately 9.4% of all retail sales.

Across the different retail sectors, spend on food increased 2% despite the amount of food bought falling by 0.7%, while non-food stores experienced an improvement in both amount spent and volumes sold.

According to ONS, department stores fared particularly wel,l with spending rises of 6.3% and an increase in sales volumes of 8.2%.

Retail consultant Graham Soult, said: “While the year-on-year increase in retail sales is clearly welcome, both the Government and retailers will be disappointed by the larger than predicted month-on-month fall.

“These latest figures continue the retail sales trend that we’ve been seeing throughout 2012: not disastrous numbers, but hardly buoyant ones either, demonstrating both the fragility of the economic recovery and the real challenge in getting hard-pressed consumers to spend.

“The run-up to Christmas is a crucial period for many retailers, and those on the high street will be pulling out all the stops to drive sales in the next few weeks.

“Offering the right products at the right price, and providing an instore buzz and theatre that’s hard to replicate online, will be key to the high street showing stronger figures in the coming months.”

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