UK retail sales values were up 0.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis from November 2011, when they were down 1.6 per cent on the preceding year, the British Retail Consortium has found. On a total basis, sales were up 1.8 per cent, against a 0.7 per cent rise in November 2011.
Non-food benefitted from the favourable timing of the half-term this month while food was characterised by cautiousness ahead of the gift buying season.
Online sales were up 7.5 per cent versus November 2011, showing no material pick-up from October.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "November was off to a flying start helped by end-of-month paydays, mid-season sales and the impact of half term, which had been in the previous month last year.
But sales growth slowed as November unfolded, suggesting that customers are taking care not to spend too much too soon, although must-have toy and technology items did well as people bought early so as not to be disappointed.
"Overall, the emphasis continued to be on value with consumers looking at lower priced gifts. The same caution hit online sales, which delivered their third worst performance of the year.
"With consumers conscious that there will be a full shopping weekend immediately before Christmas, retailers are holding their nerve and counting on a last minute rush in the crucial final weeks."