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Black Friday helps boost UK retail sales

UK retail sales jumped last month, industry data showed on Tuesday, as consumers sought out Black Friday deals and got a head start on Christmas shopping.
According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, total sales strengthened 5.0% last month, compared to growth of 0.9% a year previously.

On a like-for-like basis, sales rose 1.8% year-on-year, above the three-month average of 0.2% but below the 12-month average of 9.3%.

In the three months to November, food sales increased 0.1% on a total basis and eased 0.5% on a like-for-like basis. Non-food retail sales were up 3.9% or 0.9% on an underlying basis.

Online non-food sales slid 17.9% however, compared to November 2020, when much of the UK was in lockdown. The non-food online penetration rate fell to 47.5% from 71.0% a year previously, though it remains 10.4 percentage points higher than in November 2019.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “While Christmas may or may not be getting earlier every year, Black Friday certainly is. The American [event] has now become a month-long affair in the UK, with deals spread over a longer period than ever before.

“As people prepared their wardrobes for the cold weather, consumers took advantage of discounted clothing, shifting the focus from just electronics and household appliances.2

Jewellery and watches was the best performing category, followed by clothing and then footwear, while computing was the worst performing

Dickinson continued: “Looking forward to Christmas, spending patterns suggest that sales could be more spread out than in previous years. Consumers, erring on the side of caution, are shopping for gifts earlier to get ahead of issues relating to shipping and transport.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “Apparel and jewellery dominated Christmas gift buying at the tills, while limited Black Friday promotions saw big purchases for the home and technology put on hold as sales continued to fall in these categories.

“Retailers will be hoping consumer confidence continues this month, while keeping close to government Covid-19 updates, as we head to the vital few shopping weeks before Christmas.

“As we look ahead to the new year, rising costs continue to bite into margins and supply chain issues have impacted the availability of goods, leaving retailers with very little room for the mega discounting events we have seen in previous January sales.”

Susan Barratt, chief executive of IGD, said: “With 61% of shoppers looking forward to getting back to traditional Christmas celebrations, IGD’s shopper confidence index improved slightly in November. While over two-thirds of shoppers think Christmas is a time to splash out on food, more are setting budget as we see the rising cost of living starting to take hold.”

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