Slow start for retail sales in ‘golden quarter’ as customers show caution
THE “all-important golden quarter” for retail sales has got off to a fairly flat start as cautious consumer spending continues into the final three months of 2018, a report has found.
October marked the start of the golden quarter — the last three months of the year when some retailers earn the majority of their profits as shoppers stock up for Christmas.
But the British Retail Consortium-kpmg retail sales monitor found that in October, total retail sales increased by 1.3% year-onyear across the UK.
On a like-for-like basis, retail sales increased by 0.1% from October, 2017.
Consumer caution and the anticipation that there may be better deals available during shopping bonanzas such as Black Friday closer to Christmas may have dampened demand, it was suggested.
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “October kicks off the all-important golden quarter, with some retailers earning the majority of their annual profits in these months alone.
“But with October’s like-for-like sales flatlining at 0.1%, it was a bit of a non-starter.”
Mr Martin continued: “Grocery sales — which have been a ray of light — actually showed signs of restraint.
“However, clothing sales were more promising, with the colder weather towards the end of the month prompting a wardrobe rethink.”
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Sales in October saw only a slight uplift on the previous year, as cautious consumer spending continues into the final quarter of the year.
“Brighter weather and the anticipation of better deals in the Black Friday November sales have dampened demand for discretionary purchases.”
She added: “Furthermore, the very real possibility of a no-deal Brexit presents a huge challenge for retailers, who must contend with the prospect of higher import prices, and further drops to consumer demand.”
Meanwhile, a separate report from Barclaycard said consumer spending did see a boost from the ‘experience’ economy in October, including spending on concert and cinema tickets.