Early data provide signs of encouragement for struggling UK retail sector
Thursday 05 Dec 2019 Author: James Crux

Despite expectations Black Friday could prove a damp squib early indications bode well for the UK’s hard-pressed retail sector.

According to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, like-for-like retail sales increased by 0.4% this November when adjusted to take into account Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson says: ‘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.’

She says ‘the spectre of a no-deal Brexit’ has been pushed back to after Christmas and that consumers were more prepared to open their wallets to extra festive spending.

Springboard data showed UK footfall increased by 3.3% on Black Friday across high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, confounding predictions from commentators of a 4.5% year-on-year fall.

Stockbroker Shore Capital points out the cold but dry sunny weather was supportive for retailers with physical shops, as was the fact Black Friday coincided with payday this year.

Its own store visits highlighted strong trading at JD Sports Fashion (JD.), Debenhams (surprisingly), Associated British Foods (ABF)-owned Primark, TheWorks.co.uk (WRKS), Poundland and Zara, although at Next (NXT), Marks & Spencer (MKS) and John Lewis ‘there were lots of shoppers browsing but fewer shopping bags being carried around’.

Pure-play online fashion seller Boohoo (BOO:AIM) issued a trading update flagging ‘a record performance across the Black Friday weekend’, adding ‘both warehouses have had a strong operational performance’.

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