Nov 20, 2020
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UK retail sales rise but fashion struggles

Nov 20, 2020

UK retail sales volumes rose again in October with a 1.2% increase compared to September, the sixth consecutive month of growth in the industry. And year-on-year, there was a strong increase of 5.8%, “with feedback from a range of businesses suggesting that consumers had started Christmas shopping earlier this year, further helped by early discounting from a range of stores,” the Office for National Statistics said Friday.

Fashion stores struggled last month

And it was good news for non-store retailing as month-on-month volumes rose 6.4%, while department stores saw a 3.1% uplift.

Looking back at the year-on-year figures, retail sales values rose 4.8% while values were also up 5.2% compared to February 2020 (the final month before the pandemic hit) and volumes were up 6.7%.

But the ONS said clothing stores remained below their pre-lockdown level in October. In fact, it was the worst performer of all the key sectors that the ONS called out. The stores were largely hit by restrictions in place due to various lockdown measures across the UK.

So did they do any better online? While the ‘non-store’ textile, clothing and footwear segment does, include locations like market stalls, it’s mainly about online and the ONS said value sales in the segment rose 34.4%.

Looking at the overall figures, analyst Jacqui Baker, Retail Director at consulting firm RSM, said: “‘The big concern now is for clothing and accessories. Sales were slowly gaining momentum, but with more restrictions on socialising the need for new winterwear faded, illustrated clearly in this month’s results. 

“What they need is the hope of a normal Christmas and a clear indication of when England’s lockdown will end. Both still hang very much in the balance for now.”

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