Retail Sales Monitor
Further sales slowdown in November
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, BRC:
“November 2018 cemented Black Friday as an increasingly digital event, with a record one-in-every-three-pounds of non-food purchases made online during the month. Black Friday week itself was bigger than last year, but did little to lift the overall pace of spending, with sales growth in November falling to its lowest rate in seven months.
“Weak consumer demand and falling confidence mean that retailers are in for a nerve-wracking run up to Christmas. Conditions in the industry have been particularly tough since the vote to leave the EU in 2016 and the current uncertainty has only compounded the challenges. Unless the UK can secure parliamentary agreement for a post-Brexit deal that ensures frictionless, tariff-free trade, consumers are likely to face higher prices and less choice.”
Sue Richardson, Retail Director, KPMG:
“Aggressive promotional activity around Black Friday failed to lure shoppers, with like-for-like sales in November actually down 0.5 per cent on last year. The benefit of the full weekend, including Cyber Monday, won’t be realised until next month, but it’s clear that growth remains elusive for many retailers.
“Demand for the latest tech – whether that be driven by deals or new releases – did provide some relief from this bleak picture in which even grocery sales were fairly stagnant as food price inflation eased.
“As we’ve come to expect, online sales did fare better but when compared to the previous year’s growth, the performance wasn’t stellar.
“Sales growth and profitability don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, especially against a backdrop of deep discounting, so in this environment a laser-like focus on margin and cost base is absolutely essential.”
Food & Drink sector performance, Jon Woolven, Strategy and Innovation Director, IGD:
“Black Friday delivers few favours for food and grocery retailers, diverting attention elsewhere. This contributed to lukewarm grocery sales in November, even though 68 per cent of shoppers say they have already begun their Christmas food shopping.
“However, the long term trend is to leave most of this until as late as possible, so hopes remain for a strong finish to what has been a good year overall for the grocery sector.”