UK retailers enjoy bumper Black Friday sales: ONS

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According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), when including auto fuel, retail sales climbed 1.1% month-on-month, compared with analysts' forecast for a 0.4% increase, while the 0.3% increase recorded in October was revised up to 0.5%. Consumers have been squeezed through most of this year by rising inflation which hit its highest in almost six years last month, at a time when wages are failing to keep up.

Household goods stores specifically reported that Black Friday promotions had boosted sales, the ONS said, with the amount of electrical household appliances sold jumping by almost 9 percent compared with October.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said after a disappointing October, it was good to see retail sales picking up again in November.

November's seeming strength has merely been a reflection of consumer bringing forward purchases they otherwise would have made in December or January to November, due to the discounts available on Black Friday, Pantheon said.

That led economists to suggest the rise in sales may be temporary: Samuel Tombs, chief United Kingdom economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the surge does "not signal broader consumer strength". Economists said the sales growth would help boost GDP growth in the final three months of the year. "The official data are failing to fully adjust for the new seasonal pattern generated by Black Friday, which only gained traction in the United Kingdom three years ago", said economists at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Black Friday boosted high street sales and helped retailed post'reasonably strong results in the run-up to Christmas
Black Friday boosted high street sales and helped retailed post'reasonably strong results in the run-up to Christmas

The 1.1% growth in November was the strongest monthly figure since April.

The chart shows the boost to non-seasonally adjusted retail sales volumes in November has been growing every year since 2014, when Black Friday took off.

The monthly sales figures also show the increasing importance of online shopping in the United Kingdom, with an increase in average weekly spending of 10.2% compared with a year ago.

Earlier this month, the British Retail Consortium said Black Friday had failed to provide a much-needed uplift with non-food retailers such as fashion stores struggling. But home furnishings company Carpetright cut forecasts after warning of fragile consumer confidence.

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