Black Friday boost for retail sales

Rebound

Bumper sales for UK retailers in November: ONS

Sales of household goods stores showed strong growth at 2.9%, while electrical household appliances marked the largest contribution to the growth, boosted by Black Friday sales.

Black Friday helped to propel retail sales 1.6% higher in November from a year earlier, official figures suggest.

However, there was unexpected cheer from the country's retailers in data for November released by the Office of National Statistics that showed sales volumes increased 1.6% compared to the same period one year ago, which beat all forecasts by economists.

The figures contrast with a subdued start to Christmas spending after a weak October that had led economists to conclude that consumers were feeling the squeeze from rising inflation, which hit its highest level in almost six years last month, at a time when wages are failing to keep up.

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.

Samuel Tombs, chief United Kingdom economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: "The surge in retail sales in November does not signal broader consumer strength".

On an annual basis, retail sales grew 1.3%, surging past expectations calling for a 0.3% gain.

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The data are seasonally adjusted, but the agency said this may not fully strip out the effect of Black Friday, as the promotion period - a relatively recent phenomenon borrowed from the United States - has increased in Britain in recent years.

During the last three months overall, which smooths volatility compared to just one month, the picture is not good.

Still, the sales figures are encouraging for the health of the economy, providing a shot in the arm for retailers hit by higher inflation driving up their costs and potentially discouraging shoppers.

Food prices are rising at their fastest rate in four years, adding to the squeeze on household budgets.

The ONS found revealed the quantity of products bought in food stores decreased by 0.1% year-on-year, while the amount spent increased by 3.5%, due largely to the 3.6% increase in average food prices.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said after a disappointing October, it was good to see retail sales picking up again in November.

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