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United Kingdom retail sales win Black Friday boost

14 December 2017, 04:44 | Melanie Burgess

Black Friday boosted high street sales and helped retailed post'reasonably strong results in the run-up to Christmas

Black Friday boosted high street sales and helped retailed post'reasonably strong results in the run-up to Christmas

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures revealed that retail sales volumes in November were up 1.6 percent from a year previously, and contrasting a relatively flat performance in the month of October. This strength has merely reflected people bringing forward purchases that they otherwise would have made in December or January to November, due to the discounts available on Black Friday.

"The boost from Black Friday will be fleeting", Samuel Tombs of Pantheon Macroeconomics said.

"The risk from inflation to real spending growth has been exaggerated".

Spending on household goods showed the strongest growth at 2.9% while retailers suggested that the annual mega-shopping event, Black Friday, contributed to the rise, with electrical household appliances making the largest contribution to the growth.

Excluding fuel sales, retail sales grew 1.2% month-on-month, compared with forecasts for a 0.4% gain and with the upwardly revised 0.4% gain recorded last month.

The 1.1% growth in November was the strongest monthly figure since April. "The official data are failing to fully adjust for the new seasonal pattern generated by Black Friday, which only gained traction in the United Kingdom three years ago", said economists at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

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But the picture was less rosy when comparing the past three months with the same period a year earlier - smoothing out monthly volatility.

Official data earlier this week showed that consumer price inflation rose to its highest in almost six years at 3.1 percent in November, while the number of people in work fell for a second consecutive month.

Brexit uncertainty, higher interest rates and the squeeze on living standards from rising prices are taking their toll. City economists had forecast growth of 0.4%.

"The surge in retail sales in November does not signal broader consumer strength".

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, added: "After a disappointing October, it's good to see retail sales picking up again in November".



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