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UK retail sales growth marks worst November since 2011

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 - 08:10
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British retail sales grew at the weakest pace for any November since 2011 as hopes of a surge from Black Friday discounts fell flat, according to a survey from the British Retail Consortium on Tuesday.

[LONDON] British retail sales grew at the weakest pace for any November since 2011 as hopes of a surge from Black Friday discounts fell flat, according to a survey from the British Retail Consortium on Tuesday.

The BRC said the total value of retail sales between Nov 1 and Nov 28 was 0.7 per cent higher than in the November period of 2014, slowing from a meagre 0.9 per cent the month before.

In its previous survey the BRC had speculated that shoppers were holding fire for Black Friday at the end of November - a day of US sales promotions which has been adopted by British retailers in recent years. "November's relatively flat sales figures are a reality check for the retail sector, with consumers holding off for a Black Friday bargain pitted against retailers determined to hold on to their hard-earned margins," David McCorquodale, head of retail at survey sponsor KPMG, said.

Furniture and electrical appliances sold particularly well, driven by the Black Friday sales.

The BRC said the build-up to the Christmas sales period was"one of the hardest to read in years", with shoppers increasingly purchasing goods online.

A separate survey of adults conducted for the Money Advice Trust charity showed more than a third of Britons planned to borrow to pay for Christmas presents this year. "With underlying borrowing having risen sharply over the last year, we are concerned that this extra Christmas spending will be the last straw for many household budgets," Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said.

Unsecured lending to consumers in September and October increased 8.2 per cent compared with the year before, a pace not seen since 2006, according to Bank of England data.

The BRC said its measure of retail spending on a like-for-like basis, which strips out changes in floorspace and is preferred by some equity analysts, fell 0.4 per cent year-on-year in November after a 0.2 per cent decline in October. Economists had forecast a 0.4 per cent rise in a Reuters poll.

Official data last month showed retail sales volumes fell 0.6 in October. Some analysts linked the dip to consumers waiting for Black Friday before splashing out.

REUTERS