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As you were: retail sales flatline

Retail sales were broadly flat in October as consumers held off shopping as they waited for discounts.

Retail sales rose by 0.1% year-on-year in the four weeks to October 27, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, in contrast to the 1% drop seen a year ago.

Total sales also increased by 1.3%, up from a 0.2% increase in 2017.

In the three months to October, like for like in-store non-food sales dropped 3.3% while food sales rose 1.2%.

Online sales rose 7.6% in non-food sales during the period.

‘October kicks off the all-important golden quarter, with some retailers earning the majority of their annual profits in these months alone. But with October’s like-for-like sales flat lining at 0.1%, it was a bit of a non-starter,’ said Paul Martin, KPMG head of retail.

‘Demand was mainly dampened by continued economic uncertainty, as well as the anticipation for the deep discounting ahead – especially now that Black Friday weekend has become such a permanent feature.’

‘Retail sales growth remains low by historical standards. Sales in October saw only a slight uplift on the previous year, as cautious consumer spending continues into the final quarter of the year,’ said Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium chief executive.

‘Brighter weather and the anticipation of better deals in the Black Friday November sales have dampened demand for discretionary purchases. Moreover, low real wage growth over an extended period has left consumers with less money in their pocket, squeezing retailers’ margins in the face of higher costs.’