Nov 19: UK Retail Sales Monitor
Distortion Shows Importance of Black Friday
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, BRC:
“Once the figures are adjusted to take account of the timing of Black Friday, growth appears stronger in November than in previous months. Shoppers appeared ready to take advantage of the great bargains available, both online and on the high street. Electronics and clothes both benefited from big discounts, with the recent cold snap adding further urgency to purchases of winter-wear. Furthermore, as the spectre of a No Deal Brexit has been pushed back to after Christmas, consumers were more prepared to open their wallets to a little extra festive spending.
“Politicians may be in the full swing of campaigning today, but the next Government must be ready to hit the ground running on December 13th. If the next Government wishes to see retail spending remain healthy in 2020 it is essential they clarify our future relationship with the EU as soon as possible. If consumers are to avoid price rises, and reduced availability, politicians must put frictionless, tariff-free trade at the top of their new agenda.”
Paul Martin, Partner, UK Head of Retail, KPMG:
“At first glance, November’s decline in like-for-like retail sales of -4.9% will leave retailers reaching for the smelling salts, but context is key. If adjusted for the later timing of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, sales are more likely to have increased by a more palatable 0.4% like-for-like.
“Over the course of November, consumers will have held off making purchases in anticipation of discounts to come, despite many retailers spreading out promotions across several days, if not weeks. That said, consumers will also have put Brexit and political uncertainty to one side temporarily, focussing on promotions and the upcoming festivities instead.
“The key question will be whether demand can rebound enough to make up for several disappointing months of trading this year. Grocers are likely to have weathered the storm better than most but Black Friday is key to many non-food categories.
“Retailers have their foot to the floor during this critical trading period, but it won’t be until Christmas trading reports land in January that we’ll truly know whether their strategies have proved fruitful.”
Food & Drink sector performance, Susan Barratt, CEO, IGD:
“Food and grocery sales saw a continued slowdown in November and it is unclear if it will pick back up as the festive season approaches. It’s become a truism that the Christmas spending rush arrives later each year. Indeed, retailers will be well-prepared to meet shopper needs no matter how late they come, but whether this year will deliver the Christmas boost they may hope for remains to be seen.
“Shoppers’ financial confidence remains subdued, with a slight improvement recently as the focus moves away from Brexit to Christmas. Environmental considerations and saving money look to be front of mind this year, with 71% of shoppers intending to reduce the environmental impact of their grocery shopping this season and the spend on the Christmas day main meal expected to be down by £2 per person. Retailers therefore have an opportunity to provide shoppers with the best value products while maintaining the quality and sustainability they desire.”