Black Friday chaos prompts biggest shopping frenzy in a decade

The imported phenomenon sent the value of online sales soaring 12.9% on last year

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The Independent Online

Black Friday brought chaos to the nation but it clearly paid off for retailers as Britons splashed £7.9 billion every week last month in the biggest shopping frenzy for a decade.

Retail data showed a stunning 1.6 per cent jump in sales in November as shoppers — boosted by cheaper petrol and food prices — rushed online and to stores, even triggering riots in the desperate hunt for bargains.

The spending spree means retail sales rose 6.4 per cent in the year to November — the biggest jump since May 2004. On average, shoppers were spending £7.9 billion every week — £400 million more than November last year and £800 million more than in October.

The imported Black Friday phenomenon — given much-more prominence by retailers this year — sent the value of online sales soaring 12.9 per cent on last year. Shoppers spent around £3 billion on average online over the month, the Office for National Statistics said.

Household goods stores were among the biggest winner with sales of electrical items up 32 per cent on last year — the biggest annual rise since ONS records began. Department store sales also rocketed at the fastest annual pace since 1996, the ONS figures showed.

 

November’s figures were flattered slightly as in previous year’s Black Friday sales have fallen into December’s sales figures.

But the data underlined the fast-easing pressure on the UK consumer’s wallet with average store prices down 2 per cent year on year in the biggest drop since August 2002.

Plunging oil prices and a supermarket price war have driven the Bank of England’s official Consumer Prices Index inflation benchmark to a 12-year low of 1 per cent, while shoppers are now also enjoying real-terms pay rises as wages growth outstrips the cost of living.

November’s 1.6 per cent  sales rise was far higher than the meagre 0.3 per cent growth pencilled in by experts, who  hinted that the sales frenzy may have simply dragged sales forward  from December.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at financial data company Markit, said: “Questions will of course be asked as to whether the Black Friday discounts merely mean spending has been brought forward ahead of the usual Christmas spree, but at the moment it certainly looks like retail sales are on a firm, upward trend.

“The outlook for consumer spending is certainly one of the best that we’ve seen since the recession struck. Wages are finally showing signs of a meaningful pick up, and are at last growing faster than inflation.”

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