UK Retail Sales Collapse In November By Most On Record

Retail sales in Britain crashed by 4.9% YoY (on a like-for-like basis) in November - the biggest drop in the 25 year history of The British Retail Consortium's reporting...

Source: Bloomberg

However, as Paul Martin, Partner, UK Head of Retail, KPMG, notes:

"At first glance, November’s decline in like-for-like retail sales of -4.9% will leave retailers reaching for the smelling salts, but context is key. If adjusted for the later timing of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, sales are more likely to have increased by a more palatable 0.4% like-for-like."

But added that:

"The key question will be whether demand can rebound enough to make up for several disappointing months of trading this year."

Susan Barratt, CEO, IGD, notes that "Food and grocery sales saw a continued slowdown in November and it is unclear if it will pick back up as the festive season approaches..."

"Shoppers’ financial confidence remains subdued, with a slight improvement recently as the focus moves away from Brexit to Christmas."

Finally, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, warned that:

"If the next Government wishes to see retail spending remain healthy in 2020 it is essential they clarify our future relationship with the EU as soon as possible. If consumers are to avoid price rises, and reduced availability, politicians must put frictionless, tariff-free trade at the top of their new agenda. "

Retailers have their foot to the floor during this critical trading period, but it won’t be until Christmas trading reports land in January that we’ll truly know whether their strategies have proved fruitful.