UK retail sales: Decent growth in November

18 December 2017

Retail sales climbed 1.2% month-on-month in November, according to figures published at the end of last week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

On an annual basis, retail sales grew 1.5%, the figures revealed.

The ONS found revealed the quantity of products bought in food stores decreased by 0.1% year-on-year, while the amount spent increased by 3.5%, due largely to the 3.6% increase in average food prices.

In addition, the research found that food continued to be the smallest contribution to growth in internet sales, contributing only 0.7 percentage points.

Rhian Murphy, ONS senior statistician, said: “Underlying retail sales growth remained reasonably strong in the last few months. Household goods stores had a good November, with a number of businesses saying that Black Friday promotions boosted sales.”

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at consultant PwC, added: “After a disappointing October, it’s good to see retail sales picking up again in November. It was a month of two halves, with a slow start followed by sales ramping up in the final few weeks as retailers kicked off their Black Friday and Christmas promotional activity in earnest.

“Given the continued resilience of consumer sentiment, we’re optimistic that Christmas shopping sales in December will hold up. However, one immediate risk is the weather – snow and freezing conditions dissuaded many shoppers from hitting the high street over the past week, and also delayed the deliveries of some online orders.”

Hooker continued: “If there will be one big winner this Christmas period, it will be the grocery sector, with consumers telling us in a recent survey that food for Christmas dinner tops their festive spending priorities. The combination of price inflation and a return of volume growth should boost the performance of the whole grocery sector over the Christmas period.”