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Dec 6, 2016
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Retail sales slow in November, cluster around Black Friday - BRC

By
Reuters
Published
Dec 6, 2016

Growth in British retail sales slowed in November after a bumper October as shoppers waited for big discounts around 'Black Friday' at the end of the month, industry figures showed on Tuesday.

The British Retail Consortium said total spending rose by a year-on-year rate of 1.3 percent, slower than October’s 2.4 percent although a little stronger than the average for 2016.

Robust growth in consumer spending has been one of the main things sustaining Britain's economy since June's vote to leave the European Union. But many retailers expect to have to raise prices next year, probably squeezing consumer demand.


The British Retail Consortium said total spending rose by a year-on-year rate of 1.3 percent, slower than October’s 2.4 percent although a little stronger than the average for 2016 - Photo: Archive


Like-for-like sales - which exclude new store openings, and are a focus for company analysts - saw annual growth of just 0.6 percent, down from 1.7 percent in October, the BRC said.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said spending was generally stable but retailers were relying on promotions to win over consumers.

Separate figures from payments company Barclaycard, covering the four weeks to Nov. 19, showed rapid growth in overall consumer spending, up 5.1 percent on a year earlier, the second-fastest growth rate since the data series began in October 2011.

The highest fuel prices so far this year pushed up spending at petrol stations - which is not included in the BRC survey - and other areas of spending such as travel and entertainment outpaced growth at retailers.

"Though there is little visible evidence of households yet being forced to decide between filling up the car or eating out with friends ... they may need to look more carefully at how they allocate their cash once Christmas is out of the way," Barclaycard managing director Paul Lockstone said.

The BRC said sales were down on a year earlier in the weeks before Black Friday on Nov. 25, when many stores - especially those selling electrical goods - now copy the U.S. practice of heavy discounts the day after the American Thanksgiving holiday.

By contrast, the Confederation of British Industry last week reported the fastest retail sales growth in a year in the four weeks to Nov. 14.

The week of Black Friday itself saw a 40 percent jump in spending compared with earlier in the month, the BRC said. Retailer John Lewis has previously said its department stores enjoyed record sales on Nov. 25.

The BRC figures covered the four weeks to Nov. 26.

Online sales in November grew 10.9 percent on a year earlier, and now account for a record 27.6 percent of total non-food retail spending in Britain, the BRC said.


 

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