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Brits’ taste for art and antiques helps retail sales beat expectations

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
UK retail sales increased 0.3% between September and October, but year-on-year growth fell by 0.3%, official statistics reveal.

The figure was expected to decline 0.6%. But non-food stores, particularly spending in second-hand goods stores such as charity shops, auction houses, antiques and fine art dealers, helped the month-on-month uplift.

However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed food store spending contributed to the 0.3% decline seen in the year to October 2017. This is the first annual drop seen since March 2013.

This is because average store prices increased by 3.1% compared with October 2016, with the largest contribution coming from food stores where average prices rose by 3.5%, the largest year-on-year price increase since September 2013.

However, the three-month on three-month measure is more positive as retail sales increased 0.9%.

Kate Davies, ONS senior statistician, said: “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. Growth month-on-month in October was particularly strong in the second-hand goods sector, which includes auction houses and antique dealers.”

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said unseasonably warm weather and Storms Brian and Ophelia coinciding with half-term saw some shoppers temporarily stay away from the high street, impacting footfall.

“We are optimistic about retailers’ prospects in the final two months of the year, as consumer sentiment remains resilient, and is particularly strong among younger shoppers. We do not expect the recent rise in interest rates to affect people’s shopping habits in the short-term, and Black Friday sales followed by December Christmas shopping should be a welcome boost for UK retailers.”

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