Total retail sales increased by +5.0% in November, against a growth of +0.9% in November 2020, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. They were up 4.1%  Yo2Y.

Store sales increased +1.8% on a LFL basis YoY, while online non-food sales decreased by -17.9% (still up +18.0% Yo2Y).

The non-food online penetration rate decreased to 47.5% in November, from 71.0% in November 2020 (during the second lockdown). It was up +10.4 percentage points on the 36.9% seen at the same point in 2019.

Furniture ranked as the fourth category of the 13 measured, up from 11th in October. Onine, it went from 8th to 6th place.

However, furniture overall occupied the top spot for two-year growth. 

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE says: “While Christmas may or may not be getting earlier every year, Black Friday certainly is. 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 this winter, consumers took advantage of discounted clothing, shifting the focus of Black Friday from just electronics and household appliances. While ecommerce was significantly down on last year, when lockdown pushed more consumers online, it still remains almost one-fifth up on pre-pandemic levels, accounting for almost half of all non-food spend.

“Looking forward to Christmas, spending patterns suggest that 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 issues relating to shipping and transport. Meanwhile, retailers are doing everything they can to prepare stores, warehouses and deliveries ahead of Christmas, prioritising all the food and gifts that customers will need to enjoy the festive season.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail, KPMG, adds: “Consumers determined to enjoy Christmas hit the high street in November, with sales up +5% compared to last year. Apparel and jewellery dominated Christmas gift buying at the tills, whilst limited Black Friday promotions saw big purchases for the home and on technology put on hold as sales continued to fall in these categories.

“The high street dominated sales growth during November as consumers buoyed by the continued roll out of the vaccine programme, and eager to ensure they secured the gifts they want for Christmas, headed for physical stores to do their festive shopping. Online sales fell yet again in November, with only clothing sales seeing minor positive growth.

“Retailers will be hoping consumer confidence continues this month, while keeping close to Government Covid-19 updates, as we head to the vital few shopping weeks before Christmas. As we look ahead to the new year, rising costs continue to bite into margins and supply chain issues have impacted the availability of goods, leaving retailers with very little room for the mega discounting events we have seen in previous January sales. Rising inflation, which could top 4%-plus by the end of this year, is likely to prompt an interest rate rise sooner rather than later, which could dent consumer confidence and spending.”