November retail sales saved by Black Friday, latest BRC-KPMG Monitor reveals

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UK retail sales grew 0.9%, on a like-for-like basis from November 2013, when they had increased 0.6% on the preceding year, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. On a total basis, sales were up 2.2%, against a 2.3% rise in November 2013. This is the best performance in three months.

Household appliances was the best performing category, testament to a successful Black Friday, followed by Furniture and the home categories.

Over the last three months, food showed a decline of 1.2%. Even though November was the seventh consecutive month of decline, there was an improvement over the three months to October.

Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 12.0% in November versus a year earlier, when it had grown 16.0%. The Non-Food online penetration rate was 21.0% in November, the highest on record.

Helen Dickinson, director general, British Retail Consortium, said: “November’s retail sales demonstrate continued growth in sales across the board compared to last month. The huge demand for bargain TV’s and other household appliances on Black Friday, whether for personal use or as presents meant that electricals were the stand out category in terms of sales growth. However retailers also took advantage of the increased footfall generated by Black Friday to sell clothing, effectively bringing forward the start of Christmas sales reductions of autumn/ inter stock.

“That being said, customers also bought full priced items and showed interest in premium ranges particularly in food and retailers who didn’t discount for Black Friday also saw increased sales. These are encouraging signs in the run up to Christmas when consumers will likely want to push the boat out even more.”

David McCorquodale, head of retail, KPMG, said: “Consumers were reluctant to spend too much, too soon until a record breaking BlackFriday helped to kick start festive spending. Fashion and footwear retailers used this occasion to recover some lost ground but at a cost to their margin. Sales of electrical goods were strong all month and positively rocketed with Black Friday offers.

“Sadly some retailers fell short of the mark, with websites crashing under the pressure of shoppers hunting for a bargain. Resolving these issues must be a priority: consumers go online to avoid queues, not join them.

“Glimmers of hope were seen in the grocery sector and the sales decline was less sharp than in previous months.  While it won’t be a bumper Christmas for this segment, grocers will hope their sales will be on a par with last year.

“After years of slow growth this Christmas could be a cracker for the retail sector, with sales surpassing last year’s levels. Online sales will be launched as early as Christmas Day and shoppers will be able to pick up a bargain while tucking into their turkey.”

Food & Drink sector performance

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive, IGD, said: “Supermarkets played a big role in Black Friday and while this was mainly about non-food deals, it did give a small boost to grocery sales by encouraging more visits to stores.

“Overall, the squeeze on sales continued through November but this was primarily due to falling retail prices supported by lower fuel and a drop in some food commodity prices. The number of items sold (i.e. sales volume) will have been quite similar to last year.

“This bodes reasonably well for the Christmas trading period and our ShopperVista research finds three out of ten shoppers say they’re more likely to treat themselves or their family this Christmas than last.”