November 9, 2018 / 12:03 AM / 5 days ago

UK retail sales fall ahead of year-end promotions - BDO

A shopper pushes a trolley in a supermarket in London, Britain April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON (Reuters) - Spending in British shops declined in annual terms during October, an unpromising sign ahead of the crucial end-of-year period for already-squeezed retailers, a survey showed on Friday.

In-store turnover among retailers dropped 2.0 percent year-on-year after a 2.7 percent fall in September, on a like-for-like basis which excludes new store openings, accountancy and business advisory firm BDO said.

Including online sales, like-for-like turnover rose by 1.0 percent on the year.

Footfall — the number of people going to shops — also declined in October, marking an “ugly start” to the fourth quarter ahead of the Black Friday promotions in late November and Christmas sales next month, BDO said.

“Retailers have seen margins squeezed all year and now they enter a lengthy discounting period in the lead-up to Black Friday,” Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said.

“Such a weak start to the final quarter will have been tough to swallow, and this could easily be the new normal for October as shoppers hold back their discretionary spending until they start seeing bargains.”

Official data show retail sales perked up in mid-2018, helped by warm weather and the soccer World Cup, but recent industry surveys suggest a slowdown is taking place towards the year’s end.

The British Retail Consortium, which reported a 0.1 percent annual rise in October like-for-like sales on Tuesday, also said some shoppers were delaying purchases ahead of Black Friday discounts.

Reporting by Andy Bruce

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