Despite a general decrease in retail sales in October, furniture and home accessories enjoyed another successful month, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
Whilst UK retail sales decreased 0.2% on a like-for-like basis from October 2014, when they were unchanged from the preceding year, furniture was again the top performing category in October, achieving the best position on a three-month and 12-month rolling average basis as well. Some retailers noticed a better growth for downstairs than upstairs furniture in October, perhaps in anticipation of Christmas celebrations – all of this despite GfK’s Climate for Major Purchases Index falling from 14 in September to 7 in October, its lowest level since May.
In the wake of furniture, home accessories also had a successful month. Several trends were at play, led by Halloween and Christmas items. The house textiles category did not perform as strongly in October, but some retailers noted good sales for their bedding ranges.
On a total basis, sales were up 0.9%, against a 1.4% rise in October 2014. Adjusted for the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index deflation, total growth was 2.7%.
Total growth was below the three-month average of 1.8% and the 12-month average of 1.9%. Retailers reported that the timing of Halloween on a Saturday had a negative impact on shopping that day, while categories popular on Black Friday registered some slowdown in October.
On a three-month basis, total non-food sales were up 2.9%, almost in line with their 12-month average of 3.1%. Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 9.2% in October versus a year earlier, when they had grown 15.4%. The non-food online penetration rate was 19.1%, up from 18.4% in October 2014.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive, British Retail Consortium, says: “October was a somewhat disappointing month overall for retailers, with just 0.9% growth, slower than the three- and 12-month averages. A number of categories which we’d typically expect to be popular on Black Friday saw a slowdown in October, suggesting that some shoppers may be holding out in the hope of some great deals at the end of November. Furniture had a good month however, likely boosted by higher disposable incomes.
“With the Chancellor due to publish both the Autumn Statement and Spending Review in just a few weeks’ time, the Government has an opportunity to help UK retailers to invest in growth and create new jobs by reducing the disproportionate burden of business rates and keep going with the structural review."