Retail sales in the U.K. rose in November compared with the year before, according to the latest report by KPMG and the British Retail Consortium.
British retail sales between Oct. 31 and Nov. 27 rose 5.0% compared with the same period a year before, the report found. This was well above growth of 0.9% noted in November 2020, and exceeds the three-month average growth rate of 2.2%.
“As people prepared their wardrobes for the cold weather this winter, consumers took advantage of discounted clothing, shifting the focus of Black Friday from just electronics and household appliances,” BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said.
Over the three months to November, nonfood retail sales rose 3.9% on a total basis and 0.9% on a like-for-like basis when compared with the same period a year before, according to the report.
In-store sales of nonfood items increased 30.5% on a total basis, though they still remained below the 12-month total average of 34.0%. Online nonfood sales fell by 17.9% in November compared to the year prior, when the U.K. was in a pandemic-induced lockdown.
“The high street dominated sales growth during November as consumers buoyed by the continued roll out of the vaccine program, and eager to ensure they secured the gifts they want for Christmas, headed for physical stores to do their festive shopping,” KPMG analyst Paul Martin said.
Looking ahead, spending patterns suggest that sales could be more spread out than in previous years, the BRC said. Rising costs continue to bite into margins and supply-chain issues have hit the availability of goods, leaving retailers little room for major discounting events seen in previous January sales.
“Consumers, erring on the side of caution, are shopping for gifts earlier to get ahead of issues relating to shipping and transport. Meanwhile, retailers are doing everything they can to prepare stores, warehouses and deliveries ahead of Christmas, prioritizing all the food and gifts that customers will need to enjoy the festive season,” Dickinson said.