Black Friday shoppers send non-food sales soaring

Bargain-hungry shoppers bolstered retail takings last month, with non-food sales jumping 40 per cent during the week including Black Friday.

The annual Black Friday sales gave stores a boost last month. Picture: Jon Savage

The latest survey from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG showed like-for-like sales rose 0.6 per cent in November, compared with a 0.4 per cent fall a year earlier, as the shopping extravaganza on 25 November provided a boost to stores.

Total sales, which include new selling space, climbed by 1.3 per cent, up from a 0.7 per cent rise in November last year.

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Online sales of non-food products saw their third month of double-digit increases, but eased back to 10.9 per cent growth from an 11.8 per cent rise for the same month in 2015.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC, said the rise in total sales was also driven by people buying more food. She said: “Whilst the figure isn’t spectacular, it’s a pretty solid performance in what has been a challenging year for sales in the UK. November plays host to Black Friday, which over the past few years has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year.”

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She added: “This year’s event was expected to be the biggest yet, and our figures confirm that the week including Black Friday saw non-food sales up around 40 per cent compared with the other weeks of the month.

“However, compared to last year there was more of a shift of spending from earlier in the month, with sales down on last year in the weeks prior to 25 November.”

Like-for-like food sales were flat in the three months to November, while total food sales lifted 1.5 per cent. However, sales of non-food items saw their highest average growth since March, with total sales rising 1.7 per cent in the three months to November.

Shoppers were predicted to go on a £1.97 billion spending spree on Black Friday, setting a new record, with more than half spent on the internet. However, the chaotic scenes witnessed two years ago – when brawls broke out over cut-price televisions – were not matched this year on the high street. Instead, just a handful of shoppers waited in line outside many superstores before calmly purchasing cut-price electrical goods.

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “November retail sales figures remained positive – with total growth up 1.3 per cent on last year – but performance has slowed down and was not as strong as the previous month. Black Friday deals will have lured would-be shoppers away from the high street in search of bargains online.

“There was notable improvement in the sales figures for certain categories, with footwear – particularly men’s – having performed well in light of the colder weather. Clothing however, struggled somewhat with less growth than we saw in October. That said, retailers are likely to be pleased with any growth in this category based on recent performance.”

Separate figures from Barclaycard showed consumer spending rose 5.1 per cent last month – the second-highest rate since the survey began – as shoppers spent more money in supermarkets and on the forecourt compared to November last year.