Retail sales fell 0.3 per cent before Christmas
In the first yearly decline recorded since 2013, the volume of UK retail sales fell 0.3 per cent in October while the value of sales rose 3.1 per cent on last year, latest figures from Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
The ONS said lower volume food sales was to blame for the year-on-year decline in October sales though average store prices have risen 3.1 per cent since October 2016.
Higher inflation had dampened spending, the ONS said, but it also said October last year had seen very strong growth.
Economists also pointed to unusually warm weather holding back some sales.
The ONS said this indicated the underlying pattern was one of growth. “We are continuing to see an underlying picture of steady growth in retail sales, although this October suffered in comparison with a very strong October in 2016,” ONS statistician Kate Davies said.
The statistics body said that non-food stores, “in particular second-hand goods stores (charity shops, auction houses, antiques and fine art dealers) provided the largest contribution to this growth”.