Retail sales slip as mild weather hits demand for clothing

15 November 2018, 12:07 | Updated: 15 November 2018, 12:44

Retail sales fell unexpectedly last month as mild autumn weather hit demand for warm clothing, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said sales volumes fell by 0.5% in October - the worst performance since March.

Economists had expected sales to rise by 0.2%, following a decline of 0.4% in September.

The latest figures added to pressure pushing down the pound as Theresa May's draft Brexit agreement came under intense political attack.

Rhian Murphy, ONS head of retail sales, said: "Retail sales slowed after a buoyant summer with the mild autumn hitting winter clothes sales.

"Household goods sales also fell in October following two consecutive months of strong home improvements sales."

The figures are the latest sign of pressure on the high street, a day after inflation data showed clothing prices had fallen.

Households have been boosted over the last couple of months with the growth in the cost of living holding steady as wage growth picks up to its strongest pace for nearly a decade.

But recent data from Barclaycard and the British Retail Consortium have suggested that consumers remained cautious last month after reining in spending in September, with some apparently delaying purchases in anticipation of Black Friday discounts in November.

Last week Marks & Spencer warned of continued tough trading and that "significant further change" was needed to turn its fortunes around.

On Wednesday, Sports Direct revealed that it was to shut four House of Fraser stores, after buying the department store chain out of administration in the summer.