Tough Christmas ahead as Black Friday fails to restore consumer confidence

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Retailers are in for a “potentially tough” Christmas, after Black Friday spending figures indicated it was not enough to restore consumer confidence after the worst October on record.

According to the BDO High Street Sales Tracker, overall like-for-like sales fell 1.3 per cent in November, dragged down by a 2.5 per cent year-on-year drop on fashion sales.

However, lifestyle goods went up 0.9 per cent year-on-year and homeware items had a 2.2 per cent uptick.

The sales drop on the high street came despite a year-on-year growth of 1.1 per cent over the Black Friday week at the end of November.

The first week also saw a year-on-year sales lift of 0.4 per cent, but shoppers refrained from spending during the middle two weeks of November – with sales down 4.3 per cent and 2.4 per cent year-on-year respectively – despite widespread discounting in the lead-up to the shopping event.

BDO’s tracker comes after GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index also showed that Black Friday weekend failed to increase confidence among shoppers, with November marking the 20th consecutive month of decline.

The British Retail Consortium and KPMG’s latest Retail Sales Monitor also showed in-store sales of non-food items dropped 3.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the three months to November and three per cent in total.

BDO head of retail Sophie Michael said all the signs pointed to a potentially tough Christmas on the high street.

“Many stores have struggled so far in the final quarter of this year, and a small rise in sales over Black Friday won’t be nearly enough to deliver a positive like-for-like result in the fourth quarter,” she said.

“”We believe that the fall in consumer confidence combined with the drop in real earnings due to rising prices is very likely to lead to shoppers cutting back on their discretionary spending whilst maintaining their spend on festive food and drink.

“Retailers will be hoping for a repeat of last year’s massive last-minute festive buying spree, when we saw double digit like-for-like growth in the week leading up to Christmas.

“It will be a tough decision for retailers on whether to go early on discounting or hold their nerve and retain their stock at near to full price for that possible final week surge.”

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