October’s retail sales fell for the first time since 2013 on a year-on-year basis, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Volume sales dropped 0.3% in the 12 months to October. By contrast, value sales climbed 2.8% on a year-on year basis.

Both food and non-food saw both volume sales fall and value sales rise on a yearly basis.

Grocery stores’ volume sales dropped 0.9%, while non-food stores volume sales sunk 0.4%.

On a value basis, grocery sales inched up 0.5% and non-food sales climbed 0.7%.

Online sales rose by both volume and value, increasing 1% and 1.3% respectively.

Month by month

On a monthly basis, both volume and value sales inched up 0.3%. This was spearheaded by rises in non-food retailing, where volume increased 0.4% and value 0.3%.

Grocery retail saw both measures decline, with volume down 0.2% and value 0.1%.

Online sales also fell on a monthly basis, with both volume and value declining 0.1%.

ONS senior statistician Kate Davies 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.


Experts held an optimistic view on future retail sales, despite October’s dip.

PWC consumer market leader Lisa Hooker said: “After a strong September, October’s retail sales growth slowed, particularly in comparison to a strong October last year.

“We expect stronger retail sales in November, as many retailers have waited until after Halloween to kick start their Black Friday and Christmas campaigns.

“Our recent research also shows that three in five consumers will start their Christmas shopping later this year so, despite a lacklustre October, UK retailers have everything to play for in the critical two months leading up to Christmas,” she said.

She added: “We are optimistic about retailers’ prospects in the final two months of the year, as consumer sentiment remains resilient, and is particularly strong amongst 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.”