Black Friday sales bump up UK retail spending

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
A general view of a sign highlighting discounted items as Black Friday sales begin at The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass in Simpsonville, Kentucky, U.S., November 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jon Cherry
Spending patterns suggest sales in December could be more spread out than in previous years. Photo: Rueters

Black Friday shopping helped boost total retail sales in November, with clothes and jewellery being some of the more popular items that Brits purchased.

Sales increased by 5% in November, compared to a growth of 0.9% in November 2020, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG monitor. When compared to pre-pandemic levels of 2019, total retail sales grew 4.1%.

Over the three months to November, non-food retail sales grew 3.9%.

BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said: “While Christmas may or may not be getting earlier every year, Black Friday certainly is. The American holiday has now become a month-long affair in the UK, with deals spread over a longer period than ever before."

"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."

Chart: BRC
Chart: BRC

Jewellery and watches were some of the most popular items, followed by footwear and furniture. With the end of lockdown, Brits spent less time at home, which meant food, home accessories, household appliances and tech items saw sales fall compared to a year ago.

Meanwhile in-store non-food sales increased 30.5% but online non-food sales decreased by 17.9%,

"While e-commerce was significantly down on last year, when lockdown pushed more consumers online, it still remains almost one-fifth up on pre-pandemic levels, accounting for almost half of all non-food spend," said Dickinson.

“Looking forward to Christmas, spending patterns suggest that sales could be more spread out than in previous years," she said.

This is because consumers are shopping for gifts earlier, worried there may be shortages or shipping issues later.

“Retailers will be hoping consumer confidence continues this month, while keeping close to government COVID-19 updates, as we head to the vital few shopping weeks before Christmas," said Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG.

Read more: UK construction sector grows at strongest pace in four months

He said looking to 2022, rising costs continue to bite into margins and supply chain issues have impacted the availability of goods, leaving retailers with very little room for the mega discounting events seen in previous January sales.

"Rising inflation, which could top 4% by the end of this year, is likely to prompt an interest rate rise sooner rather than later, which could dent consumer confidence and spending," he added.

Meanwhile over the three months to November, Food sales increased 0.1% on a total basis, and decreased 0.5% on a like-for-like basis.

“Food and drinks sales in November struggled to compete with the same period in 2020 when sales soared as we entered the second national lockdown," said Susan Barratt, CEO at insight firm IGD.

She added that "activity did pick up in the second half of the month as shoppers started to ramp up spending in preparation for Christmas and the festive period".

Earlier, the BRC-Sensormatic IQ monitor showed total UK footfall decreased by 15.7% in November compared to 2019, with a two percentage point decrease from October.

Watch: The risks of buying now and paying later

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting