Retail sales buoyant


Retail sales buoyant
Retail sales rose almost four per cent in the three months to October compared to 2005, the latest official figures reveal.

The Office of National Statistics today said that the unadjusted value of retail sales was 3.9 per cent higher than last year, representing the largest growth experienced since November 2004.

However, while average weekly sales during the last three months of £4.9 billion is impressive, they are in comparison to a retail climate still suffering from the effect of last year's July 7th London terrorist bombings.

Today's government release shows that food sales were up 4.4 per cent in the three months to October, while non-food stores experienced a rise of 3.4 per cent.

Sales volumes were broadly flat between August and last month, resulting in a rise of 0.6 per cent compared to the preceding three months, the same recorded in 2005.

But while volumes at food stores were found to be at a static three-year low, non-store retailers reported a 3.3 per cent rise in volumes during the three-month-period, the highest rise for the last two years.

Commenting on today's statistics, Jonathan Said, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), claimed that UK consumers were in a "healthy position and willing to spend".

"Despite the climate of rising interest rates and squeezed household bills, the buoyant housing market, the fastest expansion of the labour force in twenty years and a robust finance and business services sector are making retailers happy," he said.

"Our view is that this consumer momentum - which is also driven by a willingness to spend in reaction to refraining from spending in 2005 - could well continue into Christmas," Mr Said added.

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