Responding to ONS retail sales figures published today, Rachel Lund, Head of Retail Insight and Analytics at the BRC said:
“These figures suggest retail sales held up better in October than other sources have suggested, however there is still little cause to start the Christmas celebrations. Consumers are clearly feeling the squeeze, with sales down year on year and spending being directed into the second-hand market. It is therefore, vital that the Chancellor does not add to the pressures on UK households’ finances in his upcoming budget.
“ONS data can be hard to interpret at the best of times, but October’s figures were particularly puzzling. Data from ourselves and others have all suggested that October was a particularly difficult month for retailers. In stark contrast, the ONS called a continuation of the upward trend in sales growth, as their figures showed volumes rising on September.
“However, if we unpick the data, we can see that sales were down year on year, with volumes falling for the first time in four years and value growth slowing sharply. A good October last year did make it harder to outperform this year, but that’s not the whole story. UK retailers are feeling the impact of the consumer spending squeeze. In fact, when we strip out growth in spending on fuel, retail sales volumes barely grew on the previous month, a month in which sales fell.”