United Kingdom retail sales are rising much faster than expected

Optimistic Lisa Hooker of PwC

Optimistic Lisa Hooker of PwC

Economists said the sales growth would help boost GDP growth in the final three months of the year.

United Kingdom retail sales increased much more than expected last month due to a statistical anomaly caused by Black Friday.

Consumers have been squeezed through most of this year by rising inflation which hit its highest in almost six years last month, at a time when wages are failing to keep up.

The market reaction was muted and some economists said the surge in retail sales might reflect Christmas spending being brought forward to take advantage of Black Friday discounts.

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.

Sales of household goods stores showed strong growth at 2.9%, while electrical household appliances marked the largest contribution to the growth, boosted by Black Friday sales.

Sales volumes rallied 1.1% month-to-month in November, the Office for National Statistics revealed, which was much higher than the consensus 0.4% forecast.


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 US, has increased significantly in Britain over the past few years.

On an annual basis, retail sales grew 1.5%, the figures revealed.

The ONS added the underlying pattern in the retail industry remained one of growth, with retail sales increasing 0.8% in the quarter through to October, compared with the previous three months.

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.

The growth comes as average store prices increased by 3.1% compared with November past year, with food stores having the largest rise of 3.6% since September 2013.

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

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

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