U.K. Retail Sales Rise on Food as Black Friday Falls Short

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. retail sales rebounded last month, fueled by higher food spending as Black Friday sales failed to tempt enough British shoppers to open their wallets for other things.

The British Retail Consortium said sales rose 0.6 percent on a like-for-like basis after slumping the most in seven months in October. They climbed 1.5 percent in total terms.

Yet the numbers suggest households are still reluctant to spend on non-essentials given the squeeze on budgets. Wages are lagging behind inflation and Brexit is creating uncertainty for the economy. The BRC said that in the three months through November, nominal food sales increased 2.8 percent on a like-for-like basis, buoyed by inflation, while non-food sales fell 1.2 percent.

“Black Friday, the big retail event of the month, failed to fundamentally shift underlying trends in spending,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC. “Rather than increasing overall sales, the event has shifted spending away from other parts of the festive period, and focuses shoppers’ attentions online.”

Non-food sales -- the focus of Black Friday promotions -- fell as retailers reported shoppers were tempted solely by generous promotions, with gaming, wearable tech and “the internet of things” proving the best sellers, the BRC said.

Consumer spending grew 2.8 percent in the year to November, maintaining the “muted levels” of expansion seen so far in the second half of 2017, a separate report by Barclaycard said on Tuesday. Growth in the private sector slowed in the three months to November, according to the Confederation of British Industry.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.