Commenting on today’s ONS Retail Sales figures
Euan Murray, Relationship Director, Barclays Corporate Banking, Scotland, said: “The retail industry delivered the goods again in November. As much as we would like to assert what this means for Christmas trading overall, we have to wait to see the year-end numbers to draw firmer conclusions. However, as our recent research showed, retailers were optimistic entering the Christmas period and are demonstrating a more sophisticated approach to Black Friday, with an increasing number resisting the phenomenon altogether. Coupled with some retailers opting for shallower reductions over a longer period may mean that this year many have avoided the damaging trend of simply shifting Christmas sales forward to November at lower margins, which makes the headline numbers for November all the more impressive.
“The first average price increase in over two years is a notable development, but we need to take care when analysing what this means for the industry, as fuel was a major contributor and assessing price moves during a month disrupted by Black Friday requires some caution. That said, it does appear that as anticipated, we’re entering a new period in terms of price and retailers will have to carefully consider pricing strategies as we move into 2017.
“Every sale is hard-won in the current circumstances and the trading environment is likely to remain challenging for some time, so the industry’s recent performance is very encouraging and should provide a degree of optimism as Christmas approaches.”