UK retail sales failed to impress in November, remaining unchanged when compared with the previous month and fuelling worries that consumers are tightening their budgets in the run-up to Christmas.
This is what I read in the monthly report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which showed that despite the solid 3.8% monthly rise in consumer electronics, retail sales in November failed to bounce back from the worse-than-expected 0.8% drop recorded last month. Compared with November 2011, retail sales edged up 0.9%, with the shy growth chiefly backed by sales in non-food stores. The annual rise in sales contributed to the upward trend that has been observed since August 2011, however this is not likely to persist in the long term, ONS noted.
Deals conducted online accounted for 10.8% of all retail sales in November, which is up from 9.4% a month earlier. ONS noted that this share was the highest ever since November 2006 and was mainly a result of retailers’ increased investment in their websites and consumers’ interest in online promotions.
Consumers spent £7.3 billion on average on a weekly basis last month, which is nearly the same amount allocated by Britons for purchases in 2011. Britons however bought more items online than in store, with the average weekly sum spent online growing to £711 million from £658 million in November 2011.
In terms of value, November sales slipped 0.1% month-on-month as retailers rushed to lower prices ahead of the festive season. In annual terms, sales values climbed by 1.5%.