• October sales volumes fall 0.6% last month, compared to September
  • Spend up 0.5% in October, compared to same period last year
  • Online sales up 11.2%

Retail sales volumes in the UK fell 0.6% last month, compared to September, as shoppers wait for Black Friday.

ONS figures showed that volumes fell in October following a 1.7% rise in September, when sales were boosted by the Rugby World Cup.

However, October’s volumes increased year-on-year by 3.8%.

The amount spent by shoppers last month rose 0.5% compared to October 2014.

The slight rise comes following a 3.3% fall in average store prices, which is the 16th month of year-on-year price deflation. However the amount spent fell 0.7% compared with September 2015.

Online sales continued to perform well growing 11.2% year-on-year, although with a 0.8% decrease on September. Average weekly spend online over the month reached £839.1m.

Keith Richardson, managing director, retail sector at Lloyds Bank Commercial, said the fall in sales volumes suggests shoppers are holding back for Black Friday, a trend also reflected in the latest sales monitor from the British Retail Consortium.

Richardson said: “Whereas there was a sudden fall in sales in the days running up to the event last year, that dip started more than a month in advance this time around. We’ll have to wait and see whether shoppers buy enough on Black Friday to make up for the slowdown in the weeks beforehand.”

“We’ll have to wait and see whether shoppers buy enough on Black Friday to make up for the slowdown in the weeks beforehand”

Keith Richardson, Lloyds Bank Commercial

Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said the October results were “mixed”. He said: “Unseasonably warm weather added pressure to footfall and intense competition in the food and drink sector contributed to continued food deflation, so it’s no surprise that growth is slightly lower. It’s also natural to see a pause before we hit Black Friday and the Christmas trading period.”

Positive trend

PwC chief economist John Hawksworth said the underlying trend remains positive. “Continued solid underlying retail sales volume growth reflects recent strong real earnings and employment growth, which has boosted consumer spending power.

“Despite global economic and geopolitical uncertainties, UK consumer confidence in their own future financial prospects seems to be holding up reasonably well, which bodes well as we head into the Christmas trading season.”