November retail sales figures owe Black Friday a huge thank you

Thanks to a bumper Black Friday, November like-for-like retail sales in the UK were 0.9% higher than in November 2013, which had posted a year-on-year 0.6% rise, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported on Tuesday.

Sales were 2.2% up in November on a total basis versus November 2013, which had risen by 2.3% on November 2012. It was the best increase in three months.

Thanks to the Black Friday push, Household Appliances posted the largest increase in sales, followed by Furniture and Home categories.

During the three-month period ending in November, Food sales dropped by 1.2%, which was a slight improvement over the 3-months to October.

Non-Food products online sales were 12% up in November versus November 2013, which had grown by 16%. The online penetration rate for non-food products was 21%, a new record. Online sales added 1.7 percentage points to Non-Food total sales growth in November.

Helen Dickinson, BRC

Every £1 in £5 of non-food purchases is spent online,” Ms. Dickinson said.

Director General of the BRC, Helen Dickinson, said:

“November’s retail sales demonstrate continued growth in sales across the board compared to last month. The huge demand for bargain TV’s and other household appliances on Black Friday, whether for personal use or as presents meant that electricals were the stand out category in terms of sales growth.”

“However retailers also took advantage of the increased footfall generated by Black Friday to sell clothing, effectively bringing forward the start of Christmas sales reductions of autumn/ winter stock.”

Even non-discounters saw strong increases

The BRC reported that retailers who did not offer discounts on Black Friday also posted strong sales gains.

KPMG’s head of retail, David McCorquodale, said shoppers were reluctant about overspending until Black Friday, which helped push the festive season into a faster gear.

Footwear and fashion retailers used Black Friday to recover some lost ground, but at lower margins.

Mr. McCorquodale said:

“Sadly some retailers fell short of the mark, with websites crashing under the pressure of shoppers hunting for a bargain. Resolving these issues must be a priority: consumers go online to avoid queues, not join them.”

“Glimmers of hope were seen in the grocery sector and the sales decline was less sharp than in previous months. While it won’t be a bumper Christmas for this segment, grocers will hope their sales will be on a par with last year.”

Retail sales for this festive season are likely to break the recent sluggish trend. Mr. McCorquodale says online sales will start as early as Christmas Day, meaning consumers will be able to grab bargains will still digesting their turkey.