November 6, 2018 / 12:10 AM / 8 months ago

UK consumer spending edges up after sluggish September: industry data

LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) - British consumers perked up slightly last month but gave little sign they were returning to their free-spending ways of the past summer, due to a lack of confidence about the economic outlook, industry data showed on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO - People walk through a shopping centre displaying sale signs in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London January 19, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

The British Retail Consortium said total retail spending in October was up 1.3 percent compared with a year earlier after growing by 0.7 percent in September, its slowest rate for almost a year.

Barclaycard said it estimated that the broader measure of consumer spending was up by an annual 4.4 percent last month after September’s slowdown to a five-month low of 3.9 percent.

“While the retail sector has continued to face challenges, the ‘experience economy’ provided a welcome boost to overall spending in October with consumers going for meals out and purchasing tickets to events and shows,” Barclaycard director Esme Harwood said.

Ticket sales were more than a fifth higher than in October 2017, boosted by the films ‘Venom’ and ‘A Star is Born’ and the opening of ticket bookings for next year’s Glastonbury music festival, Barclaycard said.

The BRC said colder weather in late October encouraged some shoppers to buy winter clothes, but the prospect of ‘Black Friday’ discounts in November caused others to delay purchases.

Like-for-like retail sales, which exclude new store openings and more closely represent how retailers typically present their earnings, were just 0.1 percent higher on the year.

“Overall, retail sales growth remains low by historical standards. Sales in October saw only a slight uplift on the previous year, as cautious consumer spending continues into the final quarter of the year,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

Barclaycard said consumers’ confidence about the economy was the lowest since July 2017 and the joint-lowest since the survey started in 2014, which it said reflected “ongoing economic and political uncertainty”.

Prime Minister Theresa May has not yet agreed a deal to smooth Britain’s departure from the European Union in March 2019. Without a deal, businesses fear disruption to supply chains and delays importing goods to Britain.

Reporting by David Milliken; editing by John Stonestreet

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