Retail sales slow as consumers turn to pre-loved gifts for Christmas

Retail sales slowed in October as retailers brace for consumers turning to second-hand gifts and tight budgets this Christmas to deal with sky-high bills.

Retail sales for October grew just over 1% year-on-year, boosted by inflationary pressures and masking falling sales volumes as shoppers bought fewer items per visit, figures from the British Retail Consortium show ( BRC).

It came as separate figures from Barclaycard also showed card spending rose 3.5% last October, up from 1.8% in September but well below the 8.8% rise in consumer inflation. .

The BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor for October revealed that total sales grew 1.6% during the month, compared with 1.3% in the same period last year.

This is below the three-month average of 1.7% and the 12-month average growth of 2.7%.

Sales in nearly all online and in-store categories fell year over year as consumers adjust to reduced household incomes.

Furniture, food and health products saved the day on the high street as shoppers braced for colder days at home, but online retailers saw sales fall in all categories except furniture. as consumers flocked more frequently to physical stores in search of bargains.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “With November’s Black Friday sales just around the corner, many people appear to be holding off on spending, particularly on larger purchases.

“Clothing and footwear, which posted higher sales this year, fell as mild weather kept customers from buying winter clothing. Meanwhile, electric blankets, air fryers and other energy-efficient appliances continued to fly off shelves as people looked for future cost savings.

“Christmas will come later than last year for many and it may be more bleak than bright as families focus on making ends meet, particularly as mortgage payments mount.”

A Barclaycard survey found that almost half of Britons (48%) plan to cut back on Christmas shopping, including festive activities and gifts, to save money this year.

Barclaycard, which handles nearly half of the country’s credit and debit card transactions, found that spending on essential items like fuel and groceries rose 5.7% last October, up from 3.3% in September, reflecting the impact of rising inflation.

Spending on fuel rose 17.7% year-on-year, while supermarket purchases increased 4.6% as the cost of food continued to rise.

In response, 67% of Britons reported looking for ways to cut costs, with 48% of these shoppers paying more attention to the prices of items they buy regularly, and the same percentage buying budget or private label products online. place of branded products.

Some 44% opt for cheaper “crooked” vegetables, and one in four (26%) buy only discount or sale items.

Spending on utilities rose 36%, but was significantly less than September’s 48% increase, as households began receiving their discounts from the Government’s Energy Bill Support Scheme.

Barclaycard director Esme Harwood said: “Rising petrol and supermarket costs continue to bite, but Britons are spending less on energy bills as government support kicks in and people find ways to save at home.

“Consumers continue to trade big nights out for cozy soirees as they cut back on discretionary spending, while health, beauty and home improvement enjoy a bit of a boost.

“With the festive season just around the corner, we are likely to see further cuts as Brits get their Christmas spending under control.

“Consumers are taking a moderate approach to the holidays, seeking out loved ones and setting spending limits to manage their costs during this traditionally expensive time of year.”

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