Black Friday lifts United Kingdom retail sales despite income squeeze

14 December, 2017, 18:11 | Author: Barbara Daniel
  • UK retail sales

United Kingdom retail sales increased 1.1% between October and November, while year-on-year growth rose 1.6%, official statistics reveal.

On the month, overall retail sales were 1.1 percent higher, up from growth of 0.5 percent in October and much stronger than economists' forecasts of a 0.4 percent rise.

The figures contrast with a subdued start to Christmas spending after a weak October that had led economists to conclude that consumers were feeling the squeeze from rising inflation, which hit its highest level in almost six years last month, at a time when wages are failing to keep up.

The reaction by the market was muted and some said the increase in retail sales could reflect spending for Christmas being move forward to enjoy the discounts offered on Black Friday.

"The boost from Black Friday will be fleeting", Samuel Tombs of Pantheon Macroeconomics said.

The data is likely to appease Central Bank of England, which for the first time raised interest rates over more than a decade last month.

"Household goods stores had a good November, with a number of businesses saying that Black Friday promotions boosted sales". "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.

On a month-on-month basis, sales rose 1.1 per cent, compared with expectations of a 0.4 per cent rise.

Looking at the past three months as a whole, which smoothes out monthly volatility, the picture is gloomier.

Still, the sales figures are encouraging for the health of the economy, providing a shot in the arm for retailers hit by higher inflation driving up their costs and potentially discouraging shoppers. Economists had forecast a moderate 0.4 percent increase.

Food prices are rising at their fastest rate in four years, adding to the squeeze on household budgets.

ONS admitted that its seasonal adjustment may not fully account for a longer Black Friday sales period, with this set of data covering the period up to 25 November, while Cyber Monday sales from 27 November will be included in the next set of figures.

On a yearly basis, retail sales volume grew 1.6 percent after staying flat in October.

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