The latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures, have showed a 0.7% year-on-year sales growth in October.
Non-food stores was the only main retail sector that saw a rise in sales volumes, increasing by 4.2% in October 2021, because of growth in other non-food stores such as second-hand stores, toy stores and sports equipment stores, and clothing stores.
Clothing stores sales volumes in October 2021 were only 0.5% below pre-pandemic levels in February 2020, with some retailers suggesting that early Christmas trading had boosted sales.
Automotive fuel sales volumes fell by 6.4% in October 2021 as they returned to more typical recent levels following strong growth in September; volumes were 5.0% below their February 2020 levels.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:
“Retailers will be relieved by the improvement in sales as they enter the final straight in the run up to Christmas. Footfall growth on UK streets is the highest among major EU economies, and this is clearly translating into consumer spend. Meanwhile online sales remain well above pre-pandemic levels as retailers ramp up their delivery and click-and-collect services. There were big improvements in clothing and footwear sales, including formalwear, as social calendars filled up and the public became increasingly confident about going out. Furthermore, with Halloween heavily curtailed by the pandemic last year, October showed chocolates and children’s costumes selling a treat as families made the most of the occasion.
“While retailers are putting in a gargantuan effort to ensure that essential food and gifts are ready for Christmas, they continue to be dogged by ongoing challenges supply chain problems. Labour shortages throughout the supply chains – from farms to distribution – are pushing up costs and creating some gaps on the shelves. 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. Retailers are hopeful that demand will continue right through the golden quarter, however, challenges remain, with higher prices looming and many households facing rising energy bills.”