Retail sales soared in October as the weather turned more wintry, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Retail sales volumes increased 7.4% from the previous year, the figures represented the highest growth rate seen since 2002, beating Reuters forecasts of 5.3%.
The more inclement weather favoured warmer clothing sales and the end of the month saw buoyant Halloween trade, which further boosted supermarket sales of the desired regalia. The largest contribution to growth came from non-store retail offerings, including mail order, market stalls and, crucially, internet-only retailers including Amazon.
In October, average weekly spending online was £1bn, a massive increase of 26.8% on October 2015. According to Kate Davies, Senior Statistician at the ONS, October saw: “…the strongest growth in internet sales seen in five years.”
In its monthly sales snapshot, figures from online retail body IMRG indicated that home goods also performed well last month. With spending up 24% year on year, the report highlighted: “This could have been spurred by a deteriorating pound, with people more focused on domestic home improvements rather than spending on holidays abroad – which have become a lot more expensive since the Brexit vote.”
Commenting on the strength in online sales, Managing Director at IMRG, Justin Opie, commented: “…a 5-year high for basket values and the likelihood of increased site traffic as people start researching in advance of Black Friday seems to have offset any negative impact. In recent years Black Friday has become an incredibly important period for determining a retailer’s success at the peak time of year, so retailers will hope that higher basket values can be sustained over the coming few weeks.”
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