UK retail figures jump in November following sales boost

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown that retail sales have increased at a much faster rate than anticipated.

The sales figures rose 1.4 per cent from October, despite economists’ forecasts of about a 0.3 per cent gain. There was also a 3.6 per cent increase on an annual basis, compared to last November.

It was reported that a considerable portion of the growth came from the sale of household goods which were up 5.3 per cent in October, the biggest increase for five years.

Online sales accounted for 20 per cent of total sales for the first time, giving some support to suggestions from the likes of Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley that town centres are suffering.

Mr Ashley is one of several retail business owners who has warned of tough trading on the high street this winter.

The figures were released as part of a report by Sir John Timpson who recommended the Government offers financial support to local authorities in a bid to transform high streets into community hubs.

The study claims that town centres currently have twice the number of stores needed.

This comes after a host of large high-street stores collapsed including Toys R Us, Maplin and House of Fraser, with a number of others including M&S and Debenhams forced to close some struggling stores.

Stores have been left dealing with what has been described in the industry as the ‘perfect storm’ of a higher wage, rent and business rates costs at a time when shoppers have been spending less frequently.