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Retail sales slump in November

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Retail sales fell by 0.4% in the three months to November, figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal.

This is the first decline since April 2018, though food stores was the only main sector to see growth (0.5%).

On a month-by-month basis, the ONS reported that retail sales fell by 0.6%.

However, year-on-year growth in the quantity bought saw an increase of 1% in November 2019.

Online sales accounted for 18.7% of retail sales in November, falling from 19.1% reported in October.

The November figures exclude the annual Black Friday shopping extravaganza but Aled Patchett, head of retail and consumer goods at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said even early discounting wasn’t enough to get consumers spending.

He added: “Instead, these figures add to the impression that 2019 has been a slow burn in terms of market growth. Against this backdrop, we can expect to see retailers seeking change to drive growth and we anticipate many will be diversifying further in 2020. Offering a mix of new services both in-store and online will support the continued refinement and improvement of their omnichannel strategies.”

Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director for personal investing at Fidelity International, said: “Retailers are in for a nail-biting end to an already difficult year. Today’s UK retail sales figures show the affect that Brexit and the December election have had on consumer purse strings. In a climate of uncertainty spending has clearly taken a back seat.

“While this week’s economic reports of a strong jobs market with inflation still lagging behind wage growth mark good news for retailers who will be banking on consumers loosening their purse strings during December’s festive period, there’s no doubt that retailers will be keeping everything crossed for a last minute Christmas miracle.”