UK retail sales volumes have continued to decline but at a lower pace of 0.3% in October 2023, compared to a drop of 1.1% in September, according to data provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

During the month, sales volumes of food stores dropped by 0.3%, and for non-food stores, which include department, clothing, household and others, sales volumes fell by 0.2%, compared to a decline of 2.1% in the previous month.

Retailers attributed the decline to the cost of living, reduced footfall and the wet weather in the second half of the month.

Non-store retailing, which primarily consists of online retailers, reports 0.8% growth in sales volume over the month after declining 2.4% in September 2023.

Sales volume for automotive fuel fell by 2.0% in October 2023.

In the three months to October 2023, sales volumes fell by 1.1% compared with the previous three months.

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British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “With consumer confidence weakening due to higher mortgage and rental costs, sales growth in October slowed. More expensive purchases, such as laptops and electrical appliances, continued to not perform well and Christmas spend took off to a slower start as households held out for Black Friday bargains. Meanwhile, cosmetics and toiletries had another strong month due to the “Lipstick Effect”- where the high cost of living meant people spent more on smaller indulgences.

“Retailers are committed to delivering an affordable and festive Christmas for their customers and are continuing to invest in lowering prices. But, their efforts are put at risk by the £480m-a-year increase to business rates from April 2024. The Chancellor must prioritise freezing rates in the Autumn Statement next week, or else this added cost pressure will likely push up prices for hard-pressed households.”