Christmas comes early for retailers as sales soar


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The Independent Online

Retailers’ hopes of a decent Christmas were buoyed yesterday as shoppers threw caution to the wind in October, official figures showed.

Retail sales volumes surged 0.8 per cent over the month – more than twice as fast as expected – as shoppers were encouraged by price cutting.

With the weather still warm, clothing stores struggled to bounce back from the 5.9 per cent plunge in the previous month, but consumers spent elsewhere, particularly on household goods, as inflation fell back and boosted disposable incomes.

“October’s healthy rebound in retail sales is particularly welcome and reassuring news,” said Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight.

The “deflator”, the retail price benchmark at the Office for National Statistics, signalled a decline in average prices of 1.5 per cent year on year –the steepest for more than a decade – amid falling petrol costs and the discount war in the supermarkets.

Chris Williamson, the chief economist at Markit, said: “Falling prices provide welcome additional scope for the Bank of England to keep interest rates on hold.”