Non-food retailers see sales growth slow

9th Nov 2017

Non-food retailers have experienced their slowest-paced monthly sales growth on record, rising just 0.2%, compared with 2.4% last October.

The figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) found that, while online retailers generally fared slightly better, their figures were still below average.

Online sales of non-food products grew 4.0% in October, below both the three-month and 12-month averages of 8.7% and 8.3% respectively, the lowest growth since BRC records began in December 2012. The online penetration rate increased from 22.6% in October 2016 to 23.7% in October 2017, the highest penetration rate since December 2016.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said: “October was a meagre month for retail sales as shopping activity slumped. With total growth at its lowest since May and below the 12-month average, retailers will have cause for concern as they prepare for the crucial run-up to Christmas.

“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. Many now face higher borrowing costs, given the rise in interest rates, which will only serve to heap further pressure onto household finances.”

Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG, added: “October marked yet another reversal of fortunes for retailers, reinforcing just how volatile consumer spend has been. Despite the positive picture last month, these latest figures will be a real disappointment and not the start to the golden quarter retailers had hoped for.

“Overall growth online was lacklustre at best, although health and beauty products continued to stand out as a strong performer. The burning questions 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.”

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