Black Friday helps retail sales grow at five times expected rate

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Retail sales climbed at their strongest pace for 11 months in November as the high street was boosted by the “Black Friday” surge, official figures showed.

Retail sales volumes rose 1.6 per cent on the month to show 6.4 per cent growth on the year, the fastest annual growth since May 2004, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday.

It is the biggest monthly increase since a 2.7 per cent boom in December last year.

Economists had expected retail sales to rise 0.3 percent on the month after a similar increase in November, and for sales to be 4.4 percent higher on the year.

There was growth in all types of stores for the first time since last December, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Customers were attracted by average store prices which were down 2 per cent compared with the same month last year, the largest fall since August 2002.

Black Friday helped electrical appliance sales increase by 32 per cent compared with the same month last year, though by value they were up 21.5 per cent, showing the impact of discounting in shifting stock.

The figures suggest strong economic growth and a recent fall in prices for essentials such as food and fuel are finally starting to translate into higher morale among some households - a good sign for Britain’s ruling Conservatives before May’s national election, where cost of living issues are centre stage.

Maeve Johnston, of Capital Economics, said: “While retail sales volumes in November were boosted by UK retailers’ adoption of the US tradition for Black Friday discounts, the underlying picture looks encouraging too.”