U.K. Retail Sales Surge With Discounts Around Black Friday
U.K. retail sales surged more than expected last month as Black Friday discounts drew consumers back into shops.
The volume of goods sold in stores and online rose 1.4% from October, when they grew a revised 1.1%, the Office for National Statistics said Friday. Economists had expected an increase of 0.8%. Sales excluding auto fuel grew 1.1%.
Clothing, computers, toys and jewelry drove the increases, with the portion of sales online declining to the lowest since March 2020. The statistics office said retailers benefitted widespread discounting around Black Friday.
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“Another stronger-than-expected rise in retail sales in November reaffirmed a solid start to economic growth in the final quarter as households brought forward Christmas shopping. But this is unlikely to last after the rapid spread of the omicron variant and the government’s decision to tighten restrictions this month.”
--Niraj Shah, Bloomberg Economics. Click for the REACT.
The figures shed light on the strength of consumer spending before the omicron variant of the coronavirus struck. With confidence declining and interest rates, inflation and taxes all rising, retailers are concerned that gains last month may mark a high point in what’s been a bumpy recovery.
“Rising Covid cases will be a big concern for many customers,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive officer of the British Retail Consortium. “There has already been a gargantuan effort to ensure that essential food and gifts are ready for the festive season.”
The gains may reflect consumers bringing forward purchases to avoid potential supply disruptions in the run-up to Christmas. Consumer confidence has weakened in the past month, a separate survey by GfK showed.
Households were dealt a further blow on Thursday when the Bank of England raised interest rates to tackle the fastest inflation in a decade.
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