- November like-for-likes drop 0.4% compared to 2014
- Non-food online sales surged 11.8%
- Total food sales inch up 0.1% over the three months to November
Major discounts and shopping events around Black Friday were not enough to help stem a drop in retail like-for-like sales last month.
Industry figures show that UK retail sales dropped 0.4% on a like-for-like basis from November 2014. On a total basis they edged up 0.7% against a 2.2% rise the year before, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
Total non-food online sales increased 11.8% during the period.
Across the sectors, furniture and the home categories were the main drivers of growth for the month, with large and small electrical appliances doing particularly well, driven by Black Friday discounting.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC said Black Friday had an “undoubtedly significant impact for the non-food categories, disturbing the build-up to Christmas”.
She added that traditionally sales in the last week of November are usually 25% higher than in the first week of the month but this year, thanks to Black Friday, the growth had hiked up to 50%.
Retail ’reality check’
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: “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.
“Despite the hype around Black Friday, there was minimal loosening of the purse strings compared to last year and retailers, facing significant cost increases next year, will be striving to wean shoppers off discounting”
David McCorquodale, KPMG
“The result was that, despite the hype around Black Friday, there was minimal loosening of the family purse strings compared to last year and retailers, facing significant cost increases next year, will be striving to wean UK shoppers off the discounting drug.”
McCorquodale added that there was a slowdown in most categories as consumers held off purchases in the hopes of grabbing Black Friday discounts.
“Whilst many retailers participated, categories which saw the biggest uplift on the day were the electricals ones where, I suspect, the discounting pain was borne by supplier and retailer alike. In clothing and footwear, brands tended to hold their nerve to retain margins.”
In food, total sales marginally increased 0.1% over the three months to November and 0.3% over the twelve months, but declined for the month, with the mild weather impacting demand for traditional winter meals.
Clothing recorded a decline in sales as a result of the unseasonably warm weather, although demand picked up with the promotional activities around Black Friday.