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Retail sales ‘at lockdown level’ as poor weather and cost of living pressures weigh | Business News

Retail sales took an unexpected fall last month, according to official figures suggesting a slump to COVID lockdown levels with only online operators seeing growth.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported a 0.3% decline overall in October 2023, following a fall of 1.1% in September.

A rise in volumes of 0.3% had been expected by economists.

Sales fell 1.1% in the three months to October when compared with the previous three months, the ONS added.

Its deputy director for surveys and economic indicators, Heather Bovill, said: “Retail sales fell again in October to their lowest level since February 2021 when widespread lockdown restrictions were in place.

“After rebounding in September, fuel sales dipped with increasing prices discouraging customers, while food sales also dropped as consumers prioritised essential goods.

“It was another poor month for household goods and clothes stores with these retailers reporting that cost-of-living pressures, reduced footfall and poor weather hit them hard.

“However, it was a better month for online retailers, the only main sector to report growth in October.”

Their volumes were 0.8% higher on the previous month, the data showed.

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Of the rest, the sharpest decline, of 2%, was felt by fuel retailers.

Households still have good reason to be cautious given the squeeze on their finances from energy, food, mortgages and rents.

Consumer spending accounts for 60% of the UK economy and any declines will make worrying reading for those concerned that the UK economy is at risk of recession – that’s two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

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This notice was published: 2023-11-17 07:02:00

By Sky News

Sky News is a British 24-hour information television channel, the first in Europe of its kind, launched on February 5, 1989 by the British Sky Broadcasting Company.

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