Black Friday delivers retail sales boost

Bumper sales for UK retailers in November: ONS

Excluding fuel sales, retail sales grew 1.2% month-on-month, compared with forecasts for a 0.4% gain and with the upwardly revised 0.4% gain recorded last month.

Shoppers across Britain pounced on the bargains available on Black Friday late last month which gave an unexpected boost to retail, that contrasted signs earlier of a subdued beginning to the Christmas spending season.

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

However, there was unexpected cheer from the country's retailers in data for November released by the Office of National Statistics that showed sales volumes increased 1.6% compared to the same period one year ago, which beat all forecasts by economists.

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.

Nevertheless, the latest figures could provide reassurance to the country's central bank, the Bank of England, which increased its interest rates for just the first time in more than a decade in November and will publish it most recent rate decision Friday at noon. Overall, sales for the period September-November increase by only 1% on an annual basis, and these are the weakest data since May 2013.

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The ONS suggested Black Friday sales events were the biggest contributor to the uptick, with electrical household appliances making the largest contribution to the growth. "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.

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.

However, average store prices increased by 3.1% in November compared with the same time past year, with shoppers feeling the 3.6% rise in food prices - the highest rise since September 2013.

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

Retail sales rose 1.6 percent from a year earlier in November.

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