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UK retail sales rise for 6th straight month in October

Britain's retail sales recorded the sixth consecutive month of growth in October as consumers stocked up ahead of national lockdowns, the British Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Friday.

In October, retail sales volumes increased by 1.2 percent compared with September, up by 6.7 percent from the pre-pandemic level in February, said the ONS, adding that the volume of retail sales saw a surge of 5.8 percent year-on-year.

Thomas Pugh, an economist at the London-based economic analysis firm Capital Economics, said despite the further rise in October, "the current lockdown means that retail sales, and total consumer spending, will probably fall outright in November."

In addition, online shopping in October saw a strong jump, with sales value growing across all sectors year-on-year.

In October, online food sales value, department stores and other non-food stores increased by 99.2 percent, 87.2 percent and 89.7 percent respectively on a yearly basis, said the ONS.

"While 2020 has seen significant behavioural change among consumers, some lockdown habits look set to stay," said Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte, a London-based auditing and consulting firm.

The shift of consumers purchasing pattern toward online shopping would affect the performance of the upcoming Christmas, said Geddes, adding that "retailers are already applying creativity to deliver what is certain to be the most digital Christmas ever."

England is currently under a month-long national lockdown, the second of its kind since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the country, amid uncertainties on whether the store would reopen during the Christmas holiday.

Another 22,915 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,453,256, according to official figures released Thursday.

The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 501 to 53,775, the data showed.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines. 

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