UK retail sales see strong rise in November

Compared with the same month last year, sales were up by 5 per cent, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures were stronger than analysts had expected, with retailers offering promotions at the end of the month for the Black Friday sales.

For the three months to November, sales were up 5.3 per cent compared with the same period the year before.

Keith Richardson from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking wrote: “These figures may look strong, and Black Friday certainly saw a lot of money being spent at the end of November, but it is still too early to say whether it was really a success for retailers.

“Retailers were better prepared this year and adapted the US-style Black Friday to better reflect British culture. Some chose not to take part while many others spread the discounts over several days to better protect margins and ease the burden on their websites and IT platforms.”

The ONS said the amount spent by shoppers was up 1.4 per cent in November compared with the month before, and was also up 1.4 per cent from the same point a year earlier.

The value of online sales increased by 4.9 per cent in November from October, and were 12.7 per cent higher compared with last year.

“Retailers may see some pay-back after the Black Friday promotions led shoppers to pull-forward spending that would otherwise have taken place in December, but the underlying sales trend looks set to remain strong as we head into 2016,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

He added that spending was not just being driven by discounts. “Households are benefitting from improved job security, low inflation and falling energy prices, the latter helping free-up more income to boost retail sales.”