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    Food sales decline in October as retail sales continue downward trend

    (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

    Retail sales volumes have fallen by 0.3 per cent in October, following a fall of 1.1 per cent in the previous month, official data showed Friday.

    Food stores sales volumes fell by 0.3 per cent, from being unchanged in September 2023, according to the monthly bulletin from the Office for National Statistics .

    Fuel sales volumes fell by 2.0 per cent in October, and in the three months to October, sales volumes fell by 0.7 per cent when compared with the previous three months, which may be affected by increasing fuel prices, ONS noted.

    Looking broader, retail sales volumes fell by 1.1 per cent in the three months to October when compared with the previous three months.

    Non-food stores sales volumes fell by 0.2 per cent in October, following a 2.1 per cent fall in September; with the cost of living, reduced footfall and the wet weather in the second half of the month contributing to the fall.

    Online retail sales volumes rose by 0.8 per cent in October 2023 following a fall of 2.4 per cent in September 2023.

    At the same time, sales value increased by 2.2 per cent in October, and by 3.5 per cent in the three months to October.

    Commenting, Charlie Huggins, manager of the quality shares portfolio at Wealth Club, said: “There are signs that cracks are starting to appear in the economy with consumers tightening their belts and switching to cheaper brands. Consumers are still spending more and getting less with retail sales volumes now at their lowest level since February 2021.

    “The good news is that inflation is moderating which provides oxygen for the Bank of England to start cutting rates. But for retailers, lower inflation isn’t necessarily a good thing, unless it encourages consumers to increase their spending.

    Higher prices have supported retailer’s sales and helped them absorb cost pressures. In a lower inflation world, volume growth will become more important, but that won’t be easy to achieve given current economic pressures.”   

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