Like-for-like retail sales across the UK dropped by 1% year on year in October, and non-food showed its worst performance since the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG began its monitor in January 2011.
Total retail sales edged up 0.2% in October compared with the same month last year, the BRC KPMG Retail Sales Monitor indicates. This is the lowest growth since May.
Over the three months to 31 October, in-store sales of non-food items declined 2.2% on a total basis and 2.9% on a like-for-like basis. In the 12 months to the end of October the total decline was 2.1%, the deepest since records began in January 2012.
Online sales of non-food products grew 4% in October, below both the three-month and 12-month averages of 8.7% and 8.3% respectively. Online, it was the lowest growth since records began in December 2012.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “It was a meagre month in October 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.
“The decline was driven by poor performance of non-food sales, as consumers appear to have opted for outdoor experiences and excursions during half term, over visits to the shops.”
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. These figures will be a real disappointment and not the start to the golden quarter retailers had hoped for.
“Clothing sales were hit particularly hard. After a brief uptick, fashion sales reverted back to the dreary theme we have seen for a number of months this year. Unseasonably warm weather last month will not have helped, but this is unlikely to be the only reason the new ranges are proving unpopular.”