Like-for-like (LFL) retail sales were down 0.5 per cent in November compared to the same period last year, the biggest fall since October 2017 excluding distortions caused by the timing of Easter, revealed the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium.

As Black Friday sales failed to offset a lack of confidence about the economy ahead of Brexit, the slog in retail sales continued from October when the year on year growth was just 0.1 percent.

“November 2018 cemented Black Friday as an increasingly digital event, with a record one-in-every-three-pounds of non-food purchases made online during the month. Black Friday week itself was bigger than last year, but did little to lift the overall pace of spending,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive, BRC.

“Weak consumer demand and falling confidence mean that retailers are in for a nerve-wracking run up to Christmas. Conditions in the industry have been particularly tough since the vote to leave the EU in 2016 and the current uncertainty has only compounded the challenges,” Dickinson added.

The food sales performed comparatively better with LFL sales increasing by 1.8 percent over the three months to November. The corresponding figure for last month was much lesser at 1.2 percent. However, food sales are on a declining trend versus 2017 since late August.

“Black Friday delivers few favours for food and grocery retailers, diverting attention elsewhere. This contributed to lukewarm grocery sales in November, even though 68 per cent of shoppers say they have already begun their Christmas food shopping,” said Jon Woolven, strategy and innovation director, IGD.