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Discounting drives October retail sales

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.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • When Brands 'drop' 4 times a year its no wonder retailers have 'in Season' promo's to move 'dead' stock on using a minor up to 20% Discount,this mostly applies to 'indies' as they cant keep up with payment terms, unfortunately, the Brands dont like you doing this and this causes animosity within the industry and threats from the suppliers to cease trading with you, if you dont remove their Brands from your Promotion, the Indies back down but the big boys IE HOF,John Lewis, JD etc continue with it!!

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  • We as indies really need to look at this a bit closer to home...First question should be . 1. why are "indies" stocking the same brands as the big boys ? 2.Could it be that there are a majority of lazy unimaginative buyers running these businesses buying the same collections as mentioned above - sorry but if a collection that I worked with started supplying and of them ,then they are out regardless of who they are? The new season now begins with an " new season launch" discount roughly 20% and so they enter a "Dutch auction" and the only way is down...3.Is this the message we really want to purvey , that our goods aren't worth what is on the price tag ? I might make it sound simplistic but really it is that simple - as independent retailers we are supposed to find new interesting collections for our customers and there are plenty out there. When I first started in this industry I was taught that no-one is bigger than the name above your door. 4.As vital part of your town/city/village isn't it about time we re-embraced the pioneering spirit if the independent of the 70's 80's and 90's and gave our target customers a reason to come and shop with us instead of trying to play with the big boy's on their terms and buy the same middle of the road over-hype toot from them ? From what I see out there with the discounting at levels I can't remember happening so early in the season from more indies ( even some of the so called good ones ) than ever for any excuse ( new season launch, bank holiday ,st whoever's day wherever, Halloween! ) and it's just November ...Maybe it's no coincidence that our Patron Saint is the Saint for lost causes...

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  • darren hoggett

    It is not accurate to state that discounting has 'driven' sales, as they may have sold at full price anyway. It is a constant misconception.

    As for discounting new stock, that is a simple admission that you aren't good enough as a retailer. You might as well wave the white flag outside the door. You cannot build a relationship with brands on a long term basis by discounting, as that can only go one way.

    There is no art in selling things below their value.

    Indies need to believe in their own convictions and by looking at the failure of the multiples, even more so.

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