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Retailers enjoy best October for seven years as NFNS grows 18%

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Growth in non-food non-store (internet, mail-order and phone) sales rose further in October to show a year-on-year gain of 18.0%, up from 11.9% in September, according to the latest British Retail ConsortiumKPMG Retail Sales Monitor report.

The faster growth rate in October than in September was in line with the improvement in store sales, and the year-on year increase was the strongest since July, when clearance discounts boosted trade. NFNS sales continued to outpace store sales but, as ever, the BRC explains that this expansion is from a very low base, as non-food non-store sales still account for only about 4% of total retail sales.

Clothing and footwear showed gains overall, though winter ranges struggled in the unseasonably mild spells. Homewares and furniture also showed growth for many, helped by improved consumer confidence and the stronger housing market. Discounts, good credit deals and free delivery attracted shoppers, though some were put off by the effect of the postal strikes. Some retailers switched to other delivery services, fearing consumers would delay purchasing if they cannot be sure of delivery times.

“The third best sales growth this year in online and mail order sales of non-food goods suggests the Royal Mail strike didn’t hit confidence in this form of shopping as retailers assured customers other delivery options were being used,” says Sharon Hardiman, head of non-store retailing at the BRC. “Sales growth will no doubt be boosted by the announcement of no further industrial postal action for the rest of the year as well as the discounts, credit deals and free delivery on offer.”

“These are encouraging results — the best like-for-like and total October sales growth since 2002,” comments Stephen Robertson, the BRC’s director general. “They are, however, compared to dreadful figures last year when the final three months were all negative.”

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