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    Retail sales: Black Friday fuels golden November

    Pedestrians walk past a store with a Black Friday discount promotion in it's window, in Liverpool, north west England on November 22, 2023. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

    Retail sales volumes rose by an estimated 1.3 per cent in November, following no growth in October (revised from -0.3%), official data showed on Friday.

    The month saw rises in both food (0.8%) and non-food (2.3%) store sales, with earlier Black Friday sales and wider discounting contributing to the increase, the Office for National Statistics reported. Online sales rose by 0.2 per cent.

    “Discounting on Black Friday and, in many cases, throughout November fuelled a golden month for retailers, with retail sales performing considerably better than expected,” Nicholas Hyett, investment manager at Wealth Club, commented.

    “Significant promotions that will inevitably put weight on margins, but a particularly strong result from store based retailers will be a relief for the struggling higher street nonetheless. Even department stores, long the sick man of the British high street, did well, with volumes up 2.3 per cent.”

    Among the food stores, supermarkets reported an increase in sales volumes of 0.1 per cent over the month while specialist food stores (such as butchers and bakers), and alcohol and tobacco stores, reported rises of 8.5 per cent and 5.2 per cent, respectively. The increased spending in the specialist food stores has been attributed to earlier and increased Christmas shopping compared with a usual November.

    However, retail sales fell over the three months to November and were still below their pre-pandemic levels, the statistics office said.

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