British Retail Consortium/KPMG reports November retail sales rise

UK retail sales increased by 0.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis from November 2015, when they had decreased 0.4 per cent from the preceding year.

On a total basis, sales rose 1.3 per cent, against a 0.7 per cent increase in November 2015. This is slightly below the three-month average of 1.6 per cent but slightly faster than the 12-month average of 1.1 per cent.

Over the three-months to November, Food sales were flat on a like-for-like basis and increased 1.5 per cent on a total basis, clearly ahead of the 12-month total average growth of 0.7 per cent.

Over the three-months to November, non-food retail sales in the UK rose 1.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis and 1.7 per cent on a total basis. This is faster than the 12-month total average growth of 1.4 per cent. This is also the highest non-food three-month average total growth since March.

Over the three-months to November, online sales grew 10.7 per cent while in-store sales declined 0.8 per cent on a total basis and 1.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "November saw total sales up 1.3 per cent over the previous year, with Food the biggest contributor to growth. Whilst the figure isn’t spectacular, it’s a pretty solid performance in what has been a challenging year for sales in the UK.

"November plays host to Black Friday, which over the past few years has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year. This year’s event was expected to be the biggest yet, and our figures confirm that the week including Black Friday saw non-food sales up around 40 per cent compared with the other weeks of the month. However, compared to last year there was more of a shift of spending from earlier in the month, with sales down on last year in the weeks prior to the 25th November.

"It wasn’t the same story for everyone. Retailers of goods that don’t traditionally benefit from the event, such as clothing, saw weaker Black Friday week sales this year, but made the most of the increased online traffic in the weeks building up to the 25th November by offering promotions to capture shoppers browsing for early bargains.

"Overall, consumer spending remains stable, although very much value-driven with a focus towards products on promotion as shoppers take advantage of the deals of the moment and retailers strive to offer the best choice and value to their customers. With an extra weekend to shop for Christmas this year, nerves will be tested in December as retailers choose their strategies to attract the last minute gift shoppers."

KPMG retail head Paul Martin: "November retail sales figures remained positive – with total growth up 1.3 per cent on last year –but performance has slowed down and was not as strong as the previous month. Black Friday deals will have lured would-be shoppers away from the high street in search of bargains online.

"There was notable improvement in the sales figures for certain categories, with footwear – particularly men’s – having performed well in light of the colder weather. Clothing however, struggled somewhat with less growth than we saw in October. That said, retailers are likely to be pleased with any growth in this category based on recent performance.

"Perhaps unsurprising for the time of year, toys and children’s accessories were flying off the shelves, helped along by increased promotion in the run-up to Christmas. With the festive season nearly upon us, it seems furniture was also on the shopping list for many, with the category performing particularly well.

"The next month will be critical for retailers, providing one final push to improve and maintain sales figures against a backdrop of increasing costs and consumers’ insatiable appetite for discounts."

BRC says this year we've seen a further evolution of Black Friday, with from its online pricing intelligence, counting 71,000 price changes on Black Friday 2015 when compared to the day before. This year, they only saw 16,000 when looking at Black Friday versus the Thursday, showing how retailers "were already geared up and using sales promotions before the big day itself".

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