British retail sales stage modest recovery in Oct

LONDON: British retail spending recovered modestly last month after falling sharply in September, helped by consumers splashing out on big-ticket items like furniture, an industry survey showed on Tuesday.

The British Retail Consortium said October total retail spending was 1.4 percent higher than a year ago, compared with a 0.8 percent fall in September, the steepest annual drop since April 2012.

On a like-for-like basis -- a measure that strips out changes in floor space and is preferred by equity analysts -- retail sales were flat, after a 2.1 percent fall in September.

Unseasonably warm weather, which dissuaded shoppers from buying new winter clothes in September, continued last month and left clothing and footwear spending weak.

But spending on furniture and other home goods was robust, suggesting consumers will continue to drive Britain's economic recovery, even if the pace of the upturn has slowed recently.

"Sadly, this warmer weather has left many fashion retailers with a substantial stock overhang, raising the question of earlier and deeper discounts as we get closer to Christmas," said David McCorquodale, head of retail at survey sponsor KPMG.

"Promotions remained rife in the grocery sector, leaving it with the unenviable moniker of the worst performing sector," added McCorquodale, as total food sales spending fell 1.4 percent in the three months to October.

British supermarkets are in the midst of a price war as established retailers such as Tesco and Wal-Mart's Asda try to fend off German discount chains Aldi and Lidl, which have increased their market share recently.- Reuters
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