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Christmas comes early for retailers

by LLB Reporter
19th Nov 21 11:43 am

Retail sales were up 0.8% in October, figures out today show.

Clothing sales are now just 0.5% below pre pandemic levels and  second-hand stores contribute the most to non-food sales increase.

Danni Hewson, AJ Bell financial analyst, comments on retail sales figures for October 2021: “Consumers seem to have heeded warnings from some retailers that the best way to make sure they have exactly what they want under the tree this Christmas is to buy early. Santa’s sack this year will be filled with clothes, toys and games. It will also contain a substantial number of second-hand items, whether that’s a reaction to rising prices, to a glut of goods thanks to lockdown clear outs, or because people are thinking more sustainably, the result is the same.

“The prospect of festive mingling has pushed people to refresh their wardrobes. It’s no longer enough to make sure your fabulous from the waist up, the bottom half also needs some love. Clothing stores have enjoyed brisk trade through the month of October and in fact sales were only half a percentage point lower than they were pre-pandemic. But there will be a niggling fear that this boost will be short-lived, people can only spend their money once. Then there’s the lure of hospitality, after the constraints on socialising last Christmas lots of consumers will want to spend the next couple of months relaxing in a pub not rushing round a department store.

“There was a slight drop in the amount of food being bought, which again could be a reaction to increased pressure on household budgets or it could be that shoppers simply couldn’t find what they were looking for on the shelves. At times supermarket aisles have looked a little bare and just as one item finally fights its way through the snarled-up supply chain another is lost in the melee. It’s no surprise that fuel sales fell in October as forecourts found blissful normality and those queues and fistfights were resigned to the history books.

“What is worth noting is our changing habits. Christmas shopping is an experience, not always an enjoyable one, but one that does seem to demand at least one in-person shopping trip. Finding that perfect gift is often about browsing and that’s had a knock on to online sales. Though still way above pre-pandemic levels the last month saw online retail fall to its lowest level since March 2020, a factor which will boost confidence amongst bricks and mortar retailers, particularly those independents that offer the unique and great service to boot.”

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