November retail sales down despite Black Friday effect

ShopperLatest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and accountants KPMG have provided bad news for UK retailers after revealing Black Friday sales failed to boost turnover at UK stores during November.

Sales in November at stores open for more than a year fell 0.4 per cent from the same month in 2014.

The BRC/KPMG survey found shoppers held back in the hope of big discounts on Black Friday, 28 November.

But in the event, many retailers did not make the discounts that shoppers had been hoping for.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “November’s relatively flat sales figures are a reality check for the retail sector with consumers holding off for a Black Friday bargain pitted against retailers determined to hold onto their hard-earned margins.

“Despite the hype around Black Friday, there was minimal loosening of the family purse strings compared to last year.”

Total sales across all stores increased by just 0.7 per cent, compared with a rise of 2.2 per cent last year.

However, online sales of non-food item outperformed, up 11.8 per cent on last year.

Black Friday produced the expected spike in sales, with trading up 25 per cent compared with the beginning of the month. Sales in furniture, and large and small electrical appliances, were higher than last year.

Helen Dickinson
Helen Dickinson

However, the BRC said an increase in “omni-channel” shopping, with consumers using a mix of online and in-store purchases. made it hard to know how and when people would spend their money in the crucial Christmas shopping period.

Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, said: “As consumers and retailers continue to adapt to the changing patterns of omni-channel shopping, where the lines between channels become less and less relevant, this build-up to Christmas is one of the hardest to read in years.

“The conversion of people’s higher disposable income into retail sales shouldn’t be taken for granted.”

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