Weekly Roundup

Early Christmas shopping has boosted retail sales last month

Latest official figures suggest early Christmas shopping before the second lockdown helped to lift retail sales in the UK during October. Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows sales volumes increased by 1.2% last month compared with September, the sixth month in a row that they have risen.

On a year-on-year basis, sales were up by 5.8%. The ONS said feedback from shops suggested some consumers had brought forward their Christmas shopping ahead of potential further restrictions. Online stores were boosted by widespread offers. However, analysts warned that sales were likely to fall sharply in November because of England entering a second lockdown – you know, the one we’re in right now?

Owner of B&Q benefits from pandemic-driven home improvement improvements

Latest trading figures from Kingfisher confirm it remains among the retail winners during the pandemic after benefitting from consumers adapting their properties to homeworking and diverting spending from holidays and leisure to DIY projects. Over the third quarter to 31 October, the group’s overall like-for-like sales jumped 17.7%.

It UK & Ireland division was the star performer with like-for-like growth of 19.9%. Sales at B&Q jumped 24%, driven by strong demand in all categories but particularly outdoor products. Screwfix recorded a 12.8% increase amid strong demand from trade customers.

The group’s overseas businesses also performed well with sales in its French division up 19.2% and Other International growing 7.5%. However, Kingfisher revealed that like-for-like sales growth had slowed to 12.6% in its fourth quarter so far to 14 November, largely reflecting the impact of recent lockdown measures.

Consumer Spending set to fall by almost £200billion despite it looking positive for food and alcohol

Mintel is forecasting that total UK consumer spending will fall by a staggering £183.6billion (14.9%) this year due to the Covid-19-induced lockdowns. This equates to a drop in spending of around £6,600 per household – with the biggest decreases occurring in the transport, foodservice, and holiday industries. Consumer spending in these three categories is expected to fall be £140.1billion in total, or just over £5,000 per household.

However, these categories are also expected to bounce back the strongest in 2021 with spending on transport increasing by £32.3billion compared to 2020, foodservice up by £17.7billion, and holidays growing by £19.2billion. Whilst this represents an increase in spending of just under £2,500 per household, these sectors will still struggle to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile, the three sectors that will experience the biggest increase in consumer spending this year – totalling £11.2billion, or just over £400 per household – are food, alcoholic, and non-alcoholic drinks purchased in the retail channels, such as supermarkets, and consumed at home.