British retail sales surged in October, as colder weather boosted clothing sales and supermarkets cashed in from Halloween, lifting annual sales growth to its highest in nearly a decade and a half. Sonia Legg reports.
Some were expecting a bit of a fright but Halloween helped lift Britain's retail sales in October. Colder weather was a factor too pushing annual sales growth to its highest in more than 14 years. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIDELITY WORLDWIDE INVESTMENT, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TOM STEVENSON, SAYING: "The UK retail figures for October were much better than expected really, they rose by about 2 percent month on month, more than seven percent year on year. I think what it reflects is that August and September were particularly difficult months for UK retailers so there's a bit of a bounce back." It's a familiar story - time and time again since the Brexit vote economic data has confounded many. But once again it was one-off factors that lifted demand. And many economists and the Bank of England are concerned rising prices will reduce households' disposable income. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIDELITY WORLDWIDE INVESTMENT, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TOM STEVENSON, SAYING: "Looking further ahead the uncertainly about what exactly the Brexit negotiations will look like will begin to weigh on investment and consumption in the UK economy." And the signs of change are there. Competition among retailers has kept store prices down in recent months. These new figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest they fell at their slowest pace since July 2014.