Retail sales down on last year

For all the hype about Black Friday delivering a boost to the UK economy, the event wasn’t able to life sales at UK stores ahead of those recorded last year.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has released data which reveals that sales in November were down 0.4 per cent on 12 months ago.

Analysis shows that many customers waited until the end of the month, anticipating significant discounts.

But ultimately shops often did not cut prices by the amount that buyers were hoping for.

This meant that while trading was still up 25 per cent in the last few days of November, the belated sales boost was not sufficient to beat last year’s figures.

Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive, said that trends in spending were changing rapidly and that despite the disappointment over last month’s sales figures, it would be difficult to predict turnover in the final few weeks before Christmas.

“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,” she said.

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

Diane Wehrle, from research firm Springboard, agreed that the changing face of the sector had made it more difficult to give accurate forecasts.

“Leading into Christmas, we expect to see online shopping continue to make dents in footfall activity,” she said

“However, as most last-order dates for online Christmas shopping occur on 18th and 19th December, it is possible we will see that traditional spike in footfall on 23rd December as consumers head in-store for last-minute Christmas buying.”