Black Friday sales surge helps boost high street figures
Retail sales climbed at their strongest pace for 11 months in November as the high street was boosted by the 'Black Friday' surge, official figures have shown.
Sales volumes grew by 1.6% month-on-month as retailers stepped up their pre-Christmas offers, the biggest increase since a 2.7% boom in December last year.
There was growth in all types of stores for the first time since last December, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Year-on-year growth of 6.4% was the best since May 2004, although last year's November figures did not include Black Friday trading.
Customers were attracted by average store prices which were down 2% compared with the same month last year, the largest fall since August 2002.
This was mainly driven by petrol stations, although prices in food stores showed their largest decrease since June 2002 - down by 1%.
The month-on-month growth was much better than the expected 0.4% increase and helped sterling spike by a cent against both the US dollar and the euro.
Black Friday helped electrical appliance sales increase by 32% compared with the same month last year, though by value they were up 21.5%, showing the impact of discounting stock.
Year-on-year retail growth was driven by non-food store volume sales up 10.8% with department stores rising 15.5% and textile, clothing and footwear retailers up 4.9% and household goods shops up 16.8%.
Grocers saw a 1.5% year-on-year increase, much smaller than the other sectors but the best figure in seven months, during a tough period for supermarkets.
However, year-on-year sales by value for mainly food stores were up just 0.5%, weaker than the previous month and showing the price squeeze facing the sector amid the threat from discounters Aldi and Lidl.
According to research firm Kantar Worldpanel, Lidl has attracted 25,000 new customers in Northern Ireland over the last year. Retail sales by value were up 1.2% month-on-month and 4.3% year-on-year, with online sales up 2.9% month-on-month and 12.9% year-on-year. Average weekly spend in the retail sector was £7.9bn in November this year.
The ONS said the underlying pattern of three-month on three-month volume sales had increased for the 21st month, which was the longest period of sustained growth since November 2007.