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Christmas trading is expected to peak later

07
Dec '10
British Retail Consortium announces retail sales report of November 2010.

UK retail sales values were up 0.7% on a like-for-like basis from November 2009. On a total basis, sales were up 2.8% against a 4.1% increase in November 2009.

Clothing and footwear also had a better month, helped by colder weather.

Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “It's been another tough month. Total sales growth has been weak now for eight months in a row and, given that VAT has pushed up annual inflation boosting sales values, underlying volume growth is virtually zero.

“Customers are cutting back because they're worried about prospects for their own jobs and personal finances. Non-food sales are being hit hardest. But, if there is good news, it's that the cuts outlined in the Government's Spending Review have not made things worse.

“With the final run-up underway, Christmas performance is delicately poised. Overall, the extreme weather has dramatically undermined sales over the last ten days. Retailers will be hoping disruption eases so that sales lost early in the month are made up over the next couple of weeks and not lost entirely. Booming internet sales alone are unlikely to make up sales shortfalls.”

Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail, KPMG, said: “A slow and uneventful start to Christmas trading, with the gap between food and non-food continuing to widen and non-food in negative like-for-like territory again. The star performer for non-food was footwear as the cold snap kicked in. Retailers will be hoping things pick up significantly in the final weeks, although regaining ground lost in the early run-up to Christmas is difficult. Christmas trading is expected to peak later, with online becoming a much larger part of the equation and post-Christmas sales being critical to December's results – readiness and performance in all will be important to retailer's fortunes. As always, there will be winners and losers – the balance between them is delicately poised and now in the hands of consumers.

Clothing
Sales returned to growth after falling below their year-earlier level in October, but the improvement was against a weaker November 2009. Womenswear continued to struggle. Year-on-year it shrunk, but men's and children's showed stronger growth. Consumer caution continued to dampen trade, with people looking for good deals and promotions and thinking carefully about larger purchases. Later in the month colder weather and the prospect of snow drove outerwear, knitwear, warm accessories and hosiery. Partywear, bags and jewellery were good for some.

Department Stores
Sales varied across stores and sectors, good for some, disappointing for others. The cold final week of the month helped winter clothing, footwear and accessories. Christmas ranges were mixed. Special sales events and promotions boosted footfall but consumer caution continued to hit big-ticket and discretionary items.

British Retail Consortium


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