The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that sales in October rose at their fastest annual rate in 14 years, with the autumnal conditions and Halloween festivities boosting supermarket sales. Sales this October were up 7.4 per cent from last October, and 1.9 per cent from September.
Clothing sales were particularly strong, most likely as a result of colder weather. Internet sales posted the strongest growth in five years, rising by almost 27 per cent. Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics highlighted the consistent trend towards online shopping, with internet sales rising by 4.1 per cent in September and 3.6 per cent in October. Stronger sales were also boosted by falling prices, as average store prices fell by 0.7 per cent this October compared to the last. All store types generated the decrease in prices except for petrol stations.
The positive figures suggest consumer confidence in spite of the uncertain economic climate caused by Brexit. However, some analysts say that prices will soon cease to fall as wage growth weakens. Consumer spending in the retail sector is unlikely to persist throughout the winter, as Mr Tombs points out. Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit commented that “such spending is looking increasingly unsustainable as inflation is likely to rear its head in coming months”.