Early Christmas shopping sees spike in October retail sales
Retail sales have seen a boost in October as shoppers started their Christmas shopping early, spending more on clothing and toys.
There was no sales growth in September, but in October, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported a 0.8% sales rise.
The ONS data also revealed clothing sales reached their highest level since the start of the pandemic.
Vintage appears to be back in fashion as a rise in sales in second-hand stores were also reported.
Sales in clothing stores were only 0.5% below pre-pandemic levels, “with some retailers suggesting that early Christmas trading had boosted sales,” the ONS said.
Toys, clothes, shoes and accessories were the top priority of sales and pre-orders that have been purchased earlier than usual for the Christmas season.
“After five months of no growth, retail sales picked up in October,” said ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner. “Although sales overall are above pre-pandemic levels, it remains a mixed picture.”
Fuel sales fell sharply, returning to more normal levels after the fuel supply crisis in September, and food and online sales also dropped.
Ongoing supply chain issues & rising energy bills
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that retailers were making sure they had Christmas stock amid the ongoing supply chain problems.
“Labour shortages throughout the supply chains – from farms to distribution – are pushing up costs and creating some gaps on the shelves,” she said.
“Nonetheless, retailers are prioritising Christmas essentials, and many have laid out their festive offerings a little earlier to ensure everyone has time to buy treats and decorations before the big day.”
She said that retailers were hoping demand would be sustained throughout the Christmas period. “However, challenges remain, with higher prices looming and many households facing rising energy bills.”
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