Retail sales growth picks up in November

A Forever 21 store advertises sales ahead of the Black Friday sales on November 20, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Retail sales declined 4.9 percent on a like for like basis in November, largely due to the timing of Black Friday, BRC figures show.

“If adjusted for the later timing of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, sales are more likely to have increased by a more palatable 0.4 percent like-for-like,” said Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG.

Martin noted that the Black Friday discounts could have prompted shoppers to held off purchases, despite many retailers spreading out promotions across several days.

Food and grocery sales continued the slowdown, with the three month average growth standing at 1.3 percent on total basis.

“It’s become a truism that the Christmas spending rush arrives later each year. Indeed, retailers will be well-prepared to meet shopper needs no matter how late they come, but whether this year will deliver the Christmas boost they may hope for remains to be seen,” commented Susan Barratt, chief executive of IGD.

Though the shoppers seem to be put Brexit uncertainty to one side temporarily, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC, said clarity on the future relationship with the EU is essential to keep retail spending healthy in 2020.

“The next Government must be ready to hit the ground running on December 13th. If consumers are to avoid price rises, and reduced availability, politicians must put frictionless, tariff-free trade at the top of their new agenda,” she said.