Retail sales dipped 0.2% on a like-for-like basis during October as consumers held fire on purchases ahead of the Black Friday sales in November.
Here we take a look in more depth at how individual categories performed on a total sales basis in the four weeks to October 31, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
Food – down
The grocery sector suffered early in the month as a result of England’s early exit from the Rugby World Cup, which caused party food and alcohol sales to dry up. Halloween falling on a Saturday meant many consumers went trick or treating rather than food shopping and the month ended slowly. Total food sales were broadly flat in October compared to the previous year, but the 0.3% increase in the 12-month rolling average was the best since July 2014.
Clothing – up
After a slow start to the month, the clothing sector reported growth in like-for-like and total sales during October. However, some retailers reported that mid-season sales were longer with more promotional activity having a negative impact on margins. Menswear was the best performing fashion category, while fancy dress costumes also sold well ahead of Halloween.
Footwear – up
Total sales edged up in the footwear sector, but like-for-likes fell as the deficit was driven by boots and wellies, which didn’t sell as well as they did in 2014. Flat shoes and trainers performed well as the men’s segment again stood out.
Health and beauty – down
Health and beauty sales were virtually flat in October, following a strong comparable from last year when the sector reported its second strongest month of 2014. Make-up sales were boosted by Halloween, while increased demand for cold and flu medicines and slimming products improved sales of health products.
Jewellery and watches – up
The only category to report more growth in October than in September, retailers selling jewellery and watches will be hoping to continue their momentum into the Christmas period.
Furniture – up
The top performing category in October, furniture retailers reported sales growth on both a total and like-for-like basis. Some retailers reported that downstairs furniture grew more quickly than bedroom products, perhaps suggesting that shoppers are preparing their homes for Christmas festivities.
Home accessories – up
Home accessories also had a strong month as Halloween decorations and the launch of Christmas gifting ranges drove sales.
House textiles – up
Halloween did not have as much of a positive impact on house textiles as it did on accessories, but strong sales of bedding ranges helped push sales in the right direction.
Toys and baby equipment – up
The third-fastest growing category in October, toys and baby equipment was boosted by Halloween, while Star Wars-themed products also flew off the shelves – and are predicted to continue to do so right up until Christmas.
Household appliances – up
Sales of household appliances rose in October, driven by large white goods but sales of smaller domestic appliances slowed as shoppers held out for Black Friday deals.