Retail bonanza as Black Friday shoppers boost high streets

Retail bonanza as Black Friday shoppers boost high streets

Retail bonanza as Black Friday shoppers boost high streets

Shoppers across Britain pounced on the bargains available on Black Friday late last month which gave an unexpected boost to retail, that contrasted signs earlier of a subdued beginning to the Christmas spending season.

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". Those sales will fall into the December data.

Officials at the Office for National Statistics said the American-inspired promotional event helped to drive a 1.1% increase in the number of goods bought in November from a month ago, with sales of electrical household appliances making the biggest contribution to growth. "Households will simply borrow a little more and save a little less to smooth out their consumption", he said. Excluding fuel, the rise was 1.5 per cent, more than three times the 0.4 per cent expected.

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. This was the biggest increase since April, when sales advanced 1.9 percent.

The data are seasonally adjusted, but the agency said this may not fully strip out the effect of Black Friday, as the promotion period - a relatively recent phenomenon borrowed from the United States - has increased in Britain in recent years.

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But the picture was less rosy when comparing the past three months with the same period a year earlier - smoothing out monthly volatility.

When the United Kingdom central bank raised interest rates in early November, the regulator predicted that household consumption growth would slow to 1% next year.

Brexit uncertainty, higher interest rates and the squeeze on living standards from rising prices are taking their toll.

Total average store prices increased by 3.1 per cent in November 2017 when compared with the same period previous year.

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

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