Ahead of second lockdown, UK retail sales logged robust growth in October as consumers started Christmas shopping earlier this year, underpinned by discounting from a range of stores.
Retail sales grew 1.2 percent on month in October following a 1.4 percent rise logged in September, the Office for National Statistics reported Friday.
Economists had forecast a marginal 0.1 percent increase. This was the sixth consecutive rise in sales volume.
Although retail sales increased in October the current lockdown means that retail sales, and total consumer spending, will probably fall outright in November, Thomas Pugh, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
Nonetheless, the economist noted that encouraging news on vaccines is improving the economic outlook for next year, which could result in consumer spending return to its pre-virus peak in 2022 rather than in 2023.
Excluding auto fuel, retail sales growth came in at 1.3 percent versus a 1.5 percent gain a month ago. The volume was expected to edge up 0.1 percent in October.
Predominantly food store sales advanced 3.1 percent on month and non-food store sales gained 1.9 percent.
On a yearly basis, sales volume including auto fuel grew at a pace of 5.8 percent, faster than September’s 4.6 percent increase and economists’ forecast of 4.2 percent. Excluding auto fuel, annual growth in retail sales volume improved to 7.8 percent from 6.4 percent a month ago. Economists were expecting a 5.9 percent rise for October.
The retail sales volume was 6.7 percent higher than February 2020. Clothing stores and fuel remained below their pre-lockdown level in October, while non-store retailing showed a further uptake in sales, the ONS said.
Data showed that online sales were the driver for the overall growth in the retail industry. The statistical office said a reduction in footfall across stores may have resulted in a shift from store spending to shopping online.
Online sales value grew 4.7 percent on month and surged 60.1 percent annually in October.
Elsewhere, a survey from the market research group Gfk showed that consumer confidence weakened in November as households were more concerned about their financial situation.
The consumer sentiment index fell to -33 from -31 in the previous month. The score was forecast to decline to -34 in November.
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