Autumn bargains boost shop sales

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The Independent Online

High street sales rose faster than expected in October as shoppers sought out autumn bargains.

High street sales rose faster than expected in October as shoppers sought out autumn bargains.

The volume was 0.5% higher than September - analysts had been forecasting a 0.2% climb.

Over the year to October, sales volumes were up 4.7%, according to the figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

The rise over the year was well above the 4.1% predicted by analysts.

But while the volume of sales has been rising, the value of good sold has not been increasing so quickly.

The value of sales over the year rose by 3.5% to an average of £3.85 billion a week.

The difference between the rise in volumes and values of sales points to retailers cutting prices to help boost the number of products sold, putting a squeeze on profit margins.

David Smith, economist at stockbrokers Williams de Broe, said: "This seems to me to be horrendous news for retailers."

The ONS also released figures on public finances showing government coffers are bulging.

The Public Sector Net Cash Requirement, the balance between Government's income and spending, showed a surplus of £9.07 billion in October.

Economists had been forecasting surplus of around £8 billion.

The cumulative surplus for the first seven months of the financial year was £6.86 billion.

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