Retail sales strengthen slightly in October, but below consensus - BRC

Reuters
A woman carries shopping bags on Oxford Street in London
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A woman carries shopping bags on Oxford Street in London, December 13, 2011. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reill …

LONDON (Reuters)- British retail sales grew slightly more strongly last month than in September, but lower clothing sales due to mild weather limited overall gains, the British Retail Consortium said on Tuesday.

Total retail sales grew 2.6 percent year-on-year in value terms in October, up from September's 2.4 percent but well below the average of more than 3 percent seen between May and August.

Like-for-like retail sales, which strip out changes in floor space and are followed by equity analysts, grew just 0.8 percent, up from 0.7 percent in September but below forecasts of 1.1 percent growth in a Reuters poll.

"October was another difficult month for retailers, reminding us that recovery is a slow, relentless slog," said David McCorquodale, head of retail at accountants KPMG, who sponsor the survey.

While Britain's economy grew at its fastest rate in more than three years during the three months to September, with output rising by 0.8 percent in real terms, living standards are still falling due to wages rising by less than inflation.

McCorquodale said retail sales were unlikely to grow strongly until wages rose faster.

The BRC said October's growth in retail sales was driven by video games, gadgets and homeware. However shoppers delayed buying new autumn clothes after one of the mildest Octobers in 100 years, causing the first fall in clothing sales since March.

The BRC survey excludes fuel sales and covers fewer small firms than Britain's official retail sales data, which is next out on November 14. September's official data showed a 3.2 percent year-on-year rise in the value of retail sales.

(Reporting by David Milliken Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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