UK gets Black Friday boost as retail sales unexpectedly rise

Pedestrians and shoppers at Oxford Street, London, on Dec 12, 2016.
Pedestrians and shoppers at Oxford Street, London, on Dec 12, 2016. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - UK retail sales unexpectedly rose in November as Black Friday discounts led consumers to splurge on electronics and household goods.

The volume of goods sold in stores and online rose 0.2 per cent from October, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday. No change was forecast in a Bloomberg survey. Excluding auto fuel, sales were up 0.5 per cent. Non-store sales, which include online shopping, jumped 3.8 per cent. The ONS survey period ended on Nov. 26, the day after Black Friday.

The increase follows a 1.8 per cent jump in October when cooler temperatures spurred demand for winter clothing. It means sales will grow in the fourth quarter unless they drop an unprecedented 6.9 per cent in December.

The figures suggest consumer confidence remains buoyant in the wake of the Brexit vote but headwinds are building. Employment fell for the first time in more than a year in the three months through October and inflation is accelerating fast, threatening to erode purchasing power.

The price of goods sold in November, as measured by the deflator, increased on an annual basis for the first time since June 2014.

Sales of household goods soared 6 per cent on the month, the most since February 2010. Sales at department stores rose 1 per cent. Clothing and footwear sales dropped 1.4 per cent after October's surge and food sales declined.

Petroleum sales fell 2.2 per cent to their lowest level in two years as prices increased at the fastest pace since 2011. From a year earlier, total retail sales rose 5.9 per cent. They were up 2.1 per cent in the latest three months, the most since early 2015.