November retail sales are worst for six months

Stats show toy sales were missed, amid aggressive discounting and pre-Christmas deals.
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Figures showed that total retail sales grew by just 0.7 per cent during November, 1.6 per cent lower than November 2010's sales.

Results for the three month weighted average from September to November showed a slightly better picture, with total sales up by 1.7 per cent year-on-year.

Non-food, non-store revenue growth fell back in November, having picked up in October. Sales were up 8.6 per cent on a year ago.

Stephen Robertson, director general, British Retail Consortium, said: "There’s a worrying lack of cheer in these figures. The weakest increase in sales for six months suggests consumers are keeping a tight rein on their spending, despite Christmas being so near.

"This November’s mild weather contrasted with much lower temperatures last year, hitting sales of winter clothing and footwear particularly hard. Consumers are not quite in the Christmas mindset yet, although stores are working to generate much-needed sales with high levels of festive discounting.

"Retailers hope that customers who’ve managed their finances carefully in recent months will still treat themselves and their families in December, unhampered by the severe weather which disrupted shopping twelve months ago.

"The Autumn Statement’s bleak assessment of the UK recovery is the latest in a sequence of poor economic news which includes falling sales, rising unemployment and stubbornly high inflation. The Chancellor offered some modest assistance but, this close to Christmas, more concrete progress on measures to inspire confidence in consumers and businesses is badly needed."

Helen Dickinson, head of retail, KPMG, added: "The latest figures prove once more that the health of UK retailing is deteriorating. Christmas is a crucial trading period for the UK retail sector but this year many retailers will be nervous and unsure as to how the season will pan out. Cash-strapped consumers continue to be reticent and last week’s gloomy economic forecast by the Chancellor won’t help to boost confidence levels.

"Any sales are hard won, with high discount and promotion levels. Retailers’ performance is suffering because of weak top-line growth and declining margins, making the backdrop even more challenging. December will require some tough decisions for a number of retailers as they struggle to plot a path in such challenging conditions."

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