Written by: Keith Tully
Reviewed: Tuesday 7th November, 2017
Sales of non-food products among retailers across the UK showed a record low level of growth in the year to October 2017.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), non-food sales increased by just 0.2 per cent in the 12 months to the end of October, which is a slower pace of growth than any recorded since the category first came to be measured as it is in January 2011.
Overall sales levels among retailers across the country rose by 0.2 per cent in October, which marks a notable slowdown of growth compared with the figure of 2.4 per cent recorded for the same month of 2016.
The value of food sales reportedly increased by 2.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the three months to the end of October this year but the BRC describes those increases as having been “very much buoyed by inflation”.
“Real consumer spending power has been on a downward trend in the last year as the acceleration in inflation has caused shoppers to become ever more cautious in considering what purchases they can afford,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC.
“Considering the intrinsic link between consumer spending and economic growth, the chancellor should reflect on this disappointing state of play and deliver a Budget that allays the risks of a further slowdown in consumer spending, by keeping down the cost of living. In other words, a shoppers Budget.”
Paul Martin from KPMG, who helped the BRC put together its latest set of figures, noted that sales among clothing retailers across the UK were particularly disappointing during October.
Warmer than expected weather in recent months has been given as one potential reason why clothing sales have been subdued but various economic factors are also understood to be restraining consumer spending nationwide.
“The burning questions for retailers will be whether shoppers are holding off their purchases until Black Friday, and whether retailers can recover from this month’s poor performance to end the year on a high,” said Mr Martin.
KPMG’s head of retail also described the latest snapshot of sales across the UK’s retail sector as being a “real disappointment” and “not the start to the golden quarter retailers had hoped for”.