UK retail sales grew 0.9 per cent, on a like-for-like basis from November 2013, when they had increased 0.6 per cent on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 2.2 per cent, against a 2.3 per cent rise in November 2013. This is the best performance in three months.
Early Garden Centre Association figures indicate a 10+ per cent increase in November 2014 compared to November 2013, with year-to-date figures upo around eight per cent against 2013. Christmas sales are 20+ per cent up. See more in Horticulture Week next issue.
- Household Appliances was the best performing category, testament to a successful Black Friday, followed by furniture and the home categories.
- Over the last three months, food showed a decline of 1.2 per cent. Even though November was the seventh consecutive month of decline, there was an improvement over the three months to October.
- Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 12.0 per cent in November versus a year earlier, when it had grown 16.0 per cent. The non-food online penetration rate was 21.0 per cent in November, the highest on record.
British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said: "November’s retail sales demonstrate continued growth in sales across the board compared to last month. The huge demand for bargain TV’s and other household appliances on Black Friday, whether for personal use or as presents meant that electricals were the stand out category in terms of sales growth. However retailers also took advantage of the increased footfall generated by Black Friday to sell clothing, effectively bringing forward the start of Christmas sales reductions of autumn/ winter stock.
"That being said, customers also bought full priced items and showed interest in premium ranges particularly in food and retailers who didn’t discount for Black Friday also saw increased sales. These are encouraging signs in the run up to Christmas when consumers will likely want to push the boat out even more."
She added that the online figures showed a good return for those retailers that had worked hard on their web offering.
KPMG retail head David McCorquodale said: "Consumers were reluctant to spend too much, too soon until a record breaking Black Friday helped to kick start festive spending. Fashion and footwear retailers used this occasion to recover some lost ground but at a cost to their margin. Sales of electrical goods were strong all month and positively rocketed with Black Friday offers.
"Sadly some retailers fell short of the mark, with websites crashing under the pressure of shoppers hunting for a bargain. Resolving these issues must be a priority: consumers go online to avoid queues, not join them.
"Glimmers of hope were seen in the grocery sector and the sales decline was less sharp than in previous months. While it won’t be a bumper Christmas for this segment, grocers will hope their sales will be on a par with last year.
"After years of slow growth this Christmas could be a cracker for the retail sector, with sales surpassing last year’s levels. Online sales will be launched as early as Christmas Day and shoppers will be able to pick up a bargain while tucking into their turkey."
Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "This month brings fantastic news for retailers who have worked hard on their online presence, as the online penetration rate of non-food sales is at an all-time record. Every £1 in £5 of non-food purchases is spent online. Online sales are also contributing a larger proportion of growth to non-food sales compared to in-store.
"Black Friday was the retail event of the month and retailers offered consumers impressive discounts both online and in-store. The high volume traffic to websites meant that consumers also bought a large amount of full priced items and not just those on sale. Online sales growth was good for the month but there may have been a distortion caused by Black Friday with consumers delaying purchases until the end of the month in the hope of grabbing some bargains."
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: "Online orders reached record breaking penetration levels this November, as shoppers snapped up a bargain in the Black Friday sales.
"However, retailers’ online systems have been tested and some have been found wanting. The sheer weight of consumer demand caused some websites to buckle under the pressure and these retailers need to sort this capacity issue out and quickly or face losing sales to competitors with more robust systems.
"Online sales will help to drive growth for retailers this Christmas and are a crucial element of their overall strategy."