United Kingdom retail growth continues in November


The offer of Black Friday sales and getting some early Christmas shopping out of the way led to a surge in retail sales in November.

Through most of 2017 consumers have felt squeezed by increasing inflation which hits the hardest in close to six years in November, during a time when wages have failed to maintain pace. Economists said the sales growth would help boost GDP growth in the final three months of the year.

Ruth Gregory, UK economist at Capital Economics, said the strength of November's sales might simply have meant spending brought forward from December, potentially knocking growth in the run-up to Christmas.

Samuel Tombs, chief United Kingdom economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: "The surge in retail sales in November does not signal broader consumer strength".

Sales in November were up 1.6% on the same time previous year despite rising inflation and stagnant wage growth, the Office for National Statistics figures show.

The data are adjusted seasonally, but the statistics agency said might not completely strip out the Black Friday effect, as the promotion period, a phenomenon that is relatively recent borrowed from the USA, has increased significantly in Britain over the past few years. This was the biggest increase since April, when sales advanced 1.9 percent.

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Looking at the past three months as a whole, which smoothes out monthly volatility, the picture is gloomier. Food sales rose just 0.6 percent, as smaller stores claimed cold weather kept buyers away.

When the United Kingdom central bank raised interest rates in early November, the regulator predicted that household consumption growth would slow to 1% next year.

'Household goods stores had a good November, with a number of businesses saying that Black Friday promotions boosted sales'. The increases far exceeded the median forecasts of economists.

But home furnishings company Carpetright cut forecasts after warning of fragile consumer confidence.

But she added that with inflation likely to fall back and some survey evidence of pay growth picking up "there should be some scope for retail spending volumes to pick up more momentum in the New Year".