Black Friday and Christmas shopping fail to boost retail sales in November

Black Friday and Christmas shopping failed to boost UK retail sales in November, official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes fell 0.4% last month, indicating a much weaker month than expected and following a 0.9% rise in October.

Economists had predicted sales would rise 0.3%.

ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: “Retail sales fell overall in November, led by a notable drop for online retailers as Black Friday deals failed to deliver their usual increase in this sector.

“However, department stores and home goods stores reported an increase in sales, with these retailers telling us that a longer Black Friday discount period helped boost sales.

“Food and alcohol sales have also increased as consumers stock up early to try and spread the cost of the Christmas festivities.”

Non-store retailers, meaning mainly online shops, suffered a 2.8% drop in sales volumes in November as shoppers continued to return to the high street after the Covid shutdowns.

However, they are still almost a fifth higher than pre-Covid levels in February 2020.

Grocery store sales bucked the trend with volumes up 0.9% in the month, suggesting people were stocking up early for Christmas.

Nevertheless, in recent months supermarkets have pointed out that they are seeing a drop in volumes sold due to rising costs of living, including higher food prices, the ONS said.

And although retailers slashed product prices to encourage Christmas spending during the Black Friday sales period, sales volumes at non-food stores fell 0.6% in November.

Black Friday took place on November 25 and the report covers the period from October 30 to November 26, which means that Cyber ​​Monday and all subsequent promotion periods will be included in the December report.

However, shoppers returned to department stores, which recorded a 1.7% increase in sales during the month, while home goods stores like furniture stores saw sales increase by 4. 4%.

Some of these retailers said they offered their customers longer Black Friday promotions with deals covering the whole month, the ONS found.

Clothing stores saw sales rise 2.1% in November, but still remained 2% below levels recorded in February 2020 before the pandemic hit.

Erin Brookes, head of retail Europe at management consultancy Alvarez & Marsal, said: “It is clear that retailers are struggling to move inventory, with Christmas sales starting earlier than in recent years. and discounts being offered for a longer period.

“The jury is out on whether the so-called ‘Golden Quarter’ will bring the festive cheer the retail industry needs.

“A combination of the cost of living crisis, strike disruptions and inclement weather will likely further reduce spending in December, affecting both in-store and online shopping.”

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