UK monthly retail purchases surge to 1.9%


Halloween and cold weather clothing purchases have helped UK retail purchases surge to 1.9 per cent month on month in October, compared to  0.1 per cent month-on-month in September and 0.2 per cent in August.

Expectations for today’s figure had been 0.5 per cent for the month and 5.3 per cent for the year.

Year-on-year sales to October are now up 7.4 per cent, the best growth rate since April 2002.

Buoyant consumer spending has been boosting the UK economy since its vote to leave the European Union in June with third quarter GDP reaching 0.5 per cent, higher than predicted in the event of a Brexit vote.

IHS Markit chief economist for UK and Europe Howard Archer says consumers are benefiting from decent purchasing power and high employment.

Earnings growth in the three months to September was 2.3 per cent compared to inflation of 1 per cent.

However, Archer suggests sterling depreciation is still yet to be fully felt, despite high profile cases of Marmite upping its prices and Toblerone reducing the size of its chocolate bars.

“Companies look highly likely to clamp down on workers’ pay as they strive to save costs in a more difficult environment and as their input prices are lifted by the sharply weakened pound.”

Archer reckons consumers could bring forward big-ticket purchases before sterling depreciation takes its toll on prices.

Within today’s figures, clothing and footwear rose 5.1 per cent in October and were up 3.7 per cent year-on-year.

Halloween-related sales were also reported to be strong, while jewellery and watches are thought to have been supported by high demand from international visitors making the most of the cheap pound.