Black Friday Blamed for Ruining Christmas on the High Street

Black Friday steals Christmas shoppers

United Kingdom retail sales declined in December, adding to signs the economy slowed in the final quarter of 2018.

The data also suggested that the traditional trend of December outperforming November for retailers has been reversed.

Volume of sales fell by 0.9 per cent on November as all sectors except food and fuel fell compared to the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said. Excluding those, sales fell a dramatic 1.3 per cent from November.

Estimates for the amount spent in December were 3.7 per cent higher than the same period in the previous year, while the quantity bought was up 3 per cent.

It added: "Both food stores and fuel stores reported positive contributions in December 2018, highlighting that the decline in December was driven by a fall in the purchase of non-essential items".

"Although the United Kingdom retail sector will certainly have been hoping for a stronger December overall, there were some winners out there and it's important to caution that we need to see January's data before we can entirely judge the festive sales period".

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In the three months to December, the quantity bought decreased by 0.2 per cent.

Rhian Murphy, head of retail sales at the ONS, said: "Following the increased growth in November, where shoppers snapped up more Black Friday offers as they continue to bring forward their Christmas shopping, retail sales weakened in December". Since then, they fell month-on-month in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

"A major concern for retailers will be that already cautious consumers further limit their spending in the near term at least due to the heightened uncertainties over Brexit", he said.

Thomas Pugh, UK economist at Capital Economics, said: "Unless a Brexit deal is signed soon, there is unlikely to be much of a rebound in [the first three months of] 2019".

Philipp Gutzwiller, head of retail at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: "After almost two weeks of trading updates, it is no secret that many retailers experienced one of the toughest Christmases in a decade".

'For now, there are enough retailers who either remain creative enough to tempt shoppers to spend a little more, or resilient enough to face into the headwinds.

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