Seasonal splurge delivers best sales for 5 years

Black Friday shopping.
Black Friday shopping.
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It may have brought chaotic scenes as some shoppers overstepped the mark in pursuit of a bargain but ‘Black Friday’ has been hailed a sales saviour for retailers.

The one-day fire sale last month sparked frantic scenes, creating a shopping surge that has helped retailers enjoy their best November sales growth in five years.

Like-for-like sales grew 0.9 per cent last month compared to a year earlier, recovering from a flat start to the autumn, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) sales monitor with KPMG.

The figure was an improvement on a flat performance in October and a 2.1 per cent decline in September.

But it still meant sales for the three-month period were down 0.5 per cent, dragged lower by the struggling food sector as supermarkets were squeezed by a price war.

The November increase across the retail sector was the best monthly sales rise since August and the best November year-on-year growth since 2009.

Household appliances were the best performing category as promotions on items such as televisions bumped up sales on Black Friday at the end of the month.

Helen Dickinson, director general for the BRC, said: “The huge demand for bargain TVs and other household appliances on Black Friday, whether for personal use or as presents, meant that electricals were the stand out category in terms of sales growth.

“However, retailers also took advantage of the increased footfall generated by Black Friday to sell clothing, effectively bringing forward the start of Christmas sales reductions of autumn/winter stock.

“That being said, customers also bought full-priced items and showed interest in premium ranges particularly in food and retailers who didn’t discount for Black Friday also saw increased sales.

“These are encouraging signs in the run up to Christmas when consumers will likely want to push the boat out even more.”

Retailers looked set for another timely boost today with experts predicting it would be the biggest shopping day of the year - dubbing it “Manic Monday”.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at professional services giant KPMG, said: “Consumers were reluctant to spend too much, too soon until a record-breaking Black Friday helped to kick-start festive spending.

“Sadly some retailers fell short of the mark, with websites crashing under the pressure of shoppers hunting for a bargain. Resolving these issues must be a priority: consumers go online to avoid queues, not join them.”

Shares in Marks & Spencer fell by three per cent (by 16.5p to 480.4p) after it emerged that the retailer’s recently overhauled online service had been struggling to cope with the seasonal demand. Customers have been prevented from making in-store click-and-collect orders for the next day, while deliveries to home addresses - normally taking three to five days - are taking up to 10 days.

There was better news for consumers in Leeds where online shoppers are benefitting from a new ‘Collect+’ service at the Trinity Leeds shopping centre. The new service means shoppers can order goods online from more than 260 retailers to a collection point in the shopping centre, where clothing purchases can be tried on and returned on the spot if they do not fit.