Rising costs and product shortages mean the level of discounting could be down. And experts say a Black Friday boost and early Christmas sales may have given retailers less excess stock to shift.
Figures out today from the British Retail Consortium and accountants KPMG show sales were five per cent up in November compared with last year.
That is above the three-month average rise of 2.2 per cent, and more than four per cent higher than pre- Covid levels. British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said retailers had begun Black Friday discounting early.
She said: “The American holiday has now become a month-long affair in the UK, with deals spread over a longer period than ever before.
“As people prepared their wardrobes for the cold weather, consumers took advantage of discounted clothing, shifting the focus of Black Friday from just electronics and household appliances.” She added: “Looking forward to Christmas, spending patterns suggest sales could be more spread out than in previous years. Consumers, erring on the side of caution, are shopping for gifts earlier to get ahead of shipping and transport issues.”
KPMG’s UK retail chief, Paul Martin, said: “Rising costs continue to bite into margins and supply chain issues have impacted the availability of goods, leaving very little room for the megadiscounting events in previous January sales.” Mr Martin also warned a possible Bank of England interest rate rise “could dent consumer confidence and spending”.
Today’s figures also showed non-food internet sales accounted for 47.5 per cent of all retail takings last month. That is up sharply from 36.9 per cent before the pandemic, but down dramatically on the 71 per cent share in November 2020.
Meanwhile, Barclaycard said spending grew 16 per cent in November on the same period in 2019.