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Black Friday boost for high streets lifted UK retail sales ahead of plan B rules coming in

·1-min read
UK retail sales rose in November  (REUTERS)
UK retail sales rose in November (REUTERS)

UK retail sales improved 1.4% in November, with Black Friday deals and Christmas shopping helping the high street.

The monthly gain was led by growth in clothing stores, up 2.9% and surpassing their pre-Covid level for the first time, data from the Office for National Statistics shows.

Other non-food shops also recorded higher sales volumes, up 2.8%, covering firms that sell goods such as toys, jewellery and computers.

But the new ONS data covers the period before new Plan B rules came in, including work from home where you can guidance. Retailers are concerned this will hurt December footfall in the important run-up to Christmas.

The West End and City have looked much quieter this week as concerns about the Omicron variant rise.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “ A month is a long time in retail. The worst that high streets had to contend with in November was the aftermath of Storm Arwen. By the beginning of December, the effects of the Omicron variant had begun to impact across the UK, and footfall has already begun to drop in city centres. ”

The total November retail sales volume figure was 7.2% higher than in February 2020, and follows 1.1% growth seen in October, as people started Christmas shopping earlier than usual.

Heather Bovill, ONS deputy director for surveys and economic indicators, said: “With more consumers choosing to visit the high street and retail parks, the proportion of online sales continued on a downward trend, to their lowest level since March 2020.”

The proportion of retail sales online fell to 26.9% in November.

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