A strong Black Friday performance drove a 0.9% increase in retail like-for-likes in November, despite a seventh consecutive month of decline in food sales.
The BRC’s Retail Sales Monitor reported total sales growth of 2.2% last month, slightly down on the 2.3% recorded in November 2013.
For the three-month weighted average between September and the end of November, food like-for-likes were down 3.1% while non-food were up 1.6%. Overall retail like-for-likes were down 0.5% across the three months.
The BRC is attributing the growth to the large spike from Black Friday, with household appliances, furniture and the home categories topping the list of retail sales. Furniture leapt up three places from fifth in the rankings in November last year to second this year. Clothing was the worst performing category in November, as retailers continued to face unseasonably warm conditions.
BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said: “November’s retail sales demonstrate continued growth in sales across the board compared with last month. The huge demand for bargain TVs 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/winter 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.”
The overall figure was also boosted by strong online sales in November. Online sales of non-food items continued to rise, growing 12% from November last year. Figures from the BRC’s online retail sales monitor also show a yearly increase in the three months to the end of November, up 11.6% from the same quarter in 2013.
Online sales now account for 21% of all non-food items sold in the UK, up from the 19.6% figure in November 2012, and had a significantly higher impact on total non-food sales growth compared with store sales. Physical sales contributed 0.7% to the 2.4% total increase from November last year, while online sales accounted for the remaining 1.7%.
Health and beauty remains the strongest sector of non-food etailing and had a strong November, with online penetration up to 6.6% in November, from 3.8% in October.