The research from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) also found that targeted discounting campaigns had paid off for many retailers last month. A number of trading updates have indicated that Christmas shopping trends are changing, with growing numbers of consumers buying gifts in late November. Black Friday - which is the day following Thanksgiving in the US - has become the latest American festive “tradition” to be embraced by the UK. Last year, on Black Friday, which fell on November 28, there were scenes of mayhem at UK high street stores as consumers literally battled for the best bargains.
According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for December 2014, UK retail sales declined by 0.4 per cent, on a like-for-like basis from December 2013, when they had increased 0.4 per cent on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 1.0 per cent, against a 1.8 per cent rise in December 2013. This is the slowest December growth since 2008.
Helen Dickinson, the director general of the BRC, said: “The figures for December show that the British public were in a shopping mood, with total sales up one per cent on the same period last year. The Black Friday feeling continued into early December as customers bagged great deals on their Christmas gifts.”
David McCorquodale, the head of retail at KPMG, said: “Extensive discounting disrupted the timing and rhythm of Christmas spending. Between Black Friday and Boxing Day, retailers and consumers engaged in a three week dance, each waiting for the other to take the lead and as a result sales suffered.
“It’s now clear that Black Friday did pull festive sales forward into November, and this created a challenging lull in spending with consumers waiting for future bargains. This situation did not reverse until the week of Christmas. The launch of Boxing Day sales, mixed with new season full price stock, saw some phenomenal spending.”