British retail sales recorded their first year-on-year decline since 2013 last month, despite solid growth in volumes from September, as households battled with fast-rising prices. Sonia Legg reports.
Shopping's still in fashion in the UK. But latest retail sales were none-the-less pretty disappointing. The 0.3 per cent year-on-year fall in sales volumes last month was the first such decline since 2013. Worries over Brexit and its impact on sterling are largely to blame - it's created a big gap between prices and wage growth. (SOUNDBITE) (English): BILL BLAIN, HEAD OF CAPITAL MARKETS & STRATEGIST, MINT PARTNERS, SAYING: "We can give a very good example of that. Over the last five years over the whole country we've actually seen house prices grow by over 50 percent. Wages have stayed almost entirely flat. And of course we're now beginning to see fairly significant inflation on the High Street. And again wages are still not keeping up." Mild weather weakened the figures by putting shoppers off buying winter clothes. And many economists had expected a fall of 0.6 percent. The weakness of the current government isn't helping the mood. (SOUNDBITE) (English): BILL BLAIN, HEAD OF CAPITAL MARKETS & STRATEGIST, MINT PARTNERS, SAYING: "What would make this better would be a competent government. But unfortunately the trade off in the UK just now seems to be that we've got to keep the incompetents there because the incompetents that are likely to take over would be even worse." Monthly sales grew 0.3 percent compared with a 0.1 percent forecast. What happens in the run up to Christmas will now be closely watched. If retailers are anything to go by it may not be a merry time John Lewis has seen seven straight weeks of sales declines - Next missed quarterly forecasts.