Retailers post weak sales rise as shoppers delay Xmas spree

Kasmira Jefford
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RETAILERS are pinning their hopes on a late Christmas boost, after a mixed November that saw consumers continue to delay parting with their pennies.

Like-for-like retail sales edged up 0.4 per cent in November compared with a year earlier, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG sales monitor showed this morning.

While an improvement on the previous month, when like-for-like retail sales fell 0.1 per cent, the rise is unlikely to dilute fears of a renewed GDP dip in the fourth quarter.

The data showed like-for-likes in food rising by three per cent in the three months to November compared to 12 months earlier, while non-food grew 1.7 per cent.

“November was a cautious month of wait and see,” said David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG. “It appears that consumers know they have to spend before Christmas but are holding off for as long as they can to see if there might be bargains available.”
Online sales rose 7.5 per cent year-on-year – the third worst performance of the year– despite a pick-up on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when US shops slash their prices, which caught on in the UK.

“Retailers enter December in a state of nervousness due to weak top-line growth and pressure on margins. Pricing throughout the month and strategic promotions will be fundamental in a key month,” McCorquodale added.