High levels of discounting on the high street – particularly on fashion – gave a small boost to retail sales in October.
UK retail sales edged up by 0.6% compared with October last year, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG retail sales monitor. Like-for-like sales were up 0.1%.
In-store sales of non-food items fell by 3.6% in the three months to October – the shallowest decline since July.
Including online, non-food sales were in growth for October compared with the same period last year. The report did not reveal the percentage increase.
However, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said the uplift was driven by heavy discounting.
“Retailers embarked on an extraordinary period of discounting this October as they tried to entice shoppers into making purchases. Fashion shops were particularly active, helping non-food return to growth for the first time since July,” she said.
“Unfortunately, the longer term trend remains bleak, with the 12-month average sales growth falling to a new low of just 0.1%. With Brexit still unresolved and a December election creating new uncertainties, retailers will be looking nervously at the months ahead.”
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, added: “After several disappointing months, any tiny hints of growth are most welcome. Retailers have clearly been peddling hard to win over disengaged shoppers, especially given continued Brexit uncertainty.
“Aggressive promotion to move stock has seemingly benefited fashion sales, both on the high street and online. However, the jury’s still out on whether that progress will benefit the retailers’ bottom line.”