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High Street

Retail sales slow in October after summer of strong growth

The quantity of items bought in retail sales in October fell by 0.5% when compared with September 2018, according to the latest figures from the ONS.

In the three months to October 2018 the quantity of items bought increased by 0.4% when compared with the previous three months, but there was an overall slowdown in growth when compared with the strong summer sales which reached a high of 2.3% in the three months to July.

When compared with the previous year, the quantity bought in the month increased by 2.2%, with growth across all sectors except fuel, which fell by 1.8%.

Online sales as a total of all retailing increased to 18% from the 17.7% reported in September 2018, with textile, clothing and footwear stores continuing a record proportion of online sales at 18.2% – despite a fall in total retail spending in this sector.

However, new data from consumer research firm Attest shows “cause for optimism” in the sector during November, with 95% of consumers planning to spend the same or more as this time last year as Black Friday approaches.

According to the group, half of consumers (52%) are planning to spend £150 or more this Black Friday, with Christmas presents revealed as the most popular purchases (69%) followed by clothes and jewellery (33%) and gadgets (32%), providing a pre-Christmas retail sector boost over the next fortnight.

Jeremy King, CEO of Attest, told Retail Sector: “The UK retail sector may be set for a further boost, but consumers are predominantly looking to digital brands and e-commerce for their Black Friday shopping, with Amazon by far the most desired retail outlet amongst Black Friday shoppers, favoured by 35%.

“With Amazon promising a 10-day long sales extravaganza, lightning deals and pop-up stores, high street-first retailers need to do their homework and understand how they can best capture consumers’ imagination if they’re to achieve anything like the November sales success of the digital behemoths.”

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