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Retail Sector Enjoys Strong November Sales Figures

21 December 2018 - 10:16 by Graham Miller

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The arrival of the Black Friday weekend once again helped the UK’s retailers to boost their sales significantly, with sites offering shopping online managing to account for a greater proportion of activity than ever before.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics found that 21.5 per cent of purchases made across the industry were conducted via the web. Furthermore, the e-commerce market managed to achieve double-digit growth, with a 13.1 per cent annual uptick in sales recorded.

November was also a bumper month when stacked up against October, with 36.3 per cent more purchases made over the course of its 30 days. Analysts point out that this needs to be contextualised by the fact that consumer spending had been muted up until the festive shopping season kicked off, explaining the otherwise surprising leap upwards.

The year-on-year rise in retail activity means that consumers not only purchased more products but also spent more than they did during the same month in 2017. In spite of this, growth remains sluggish when bricks-and-mortar sales are taken into account, and it is apparent that there is still a lot of caution and concern being reflected in shoppers’ spending habits.

The ONS’s statistics fail to take into account Cyber Monday sales because it fell just outside their window of analysis. This means that December’s figures will no doubt get a decent shot in the arm, even if this may artificially alter perceptions.

The rise of online shopping and the increase in smartphone use have meant that purchases being made on Christmas Day itself spiral into their millions, so the end-of-year success enjoyed by the industry will no doubt be reflected in reports published in the first weeks of 2019.