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Retail sales fall and rise

20poundnotesSales figures from the British Retail Consortium provide support for pessimists and optimists. Lies, damned lies, and statistics?

According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor the value of UK like for like retail sales dropped by 0.1% compared with a year ago (when sales dropped back 0.6% on 2010). However total sales, despite store closures since 2011 and lower online sales, rose by 1.1% (compared with a 1.5% rise in 2011).

'The recession may officially be over but it will take a little longer for consumers to feel they can spend freely again. Retailers are holding less stock than a year ago and may choose to be cautious with pre-Christmas sales in order to protect margins. However, the disappointing sales figures for October indicate that winning share of the Christmas wallet will be just as competitive over the next two months as it was last year,' adds David McCorquodale, KPMG head of retail.

'Unfortunately it looks like the modest sales revival we saw in September was something of a false dawn. Excluding April, hit by this year's earlier Easter, October saw the worst sales growth since last November. And October's poor performance wasn't a one off. Year-to-date average growth hasn't outpaced inflation meaning overall sales volumes going backwards. Within that, October's online, non-food, results were especially poor. The last three months now include the two weakest growth rates we've recorded in four years,' says Stephen Robertson, BRC director general.