British retail sales unexpectedly contracted in November as the cost of living crisis hit household finances and consumer confidence.
The volume of retail sales in Great Britain fell 0.4 per cent between October and November, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics on Friday.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.3 per cent increase.
Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics, said: “Retail sales fell overall in November, driven by a notable drop for online retailers, with Black Friday offers failing to provide their usual lift in this sector.”
However, he noted that food and alcohol sales were up, with consumers stocking up early to try to spread the cost of Christmas festivities.
Sales volumes in the three months to November were down 2.2 per cent compared with the previous three-month period.
The ONS said that “in recent months, supermarkets have highlighted that they are seeing a decline in volumes sold because of increased cost of living and food prices”.
The quantity of goods sold in November was 0.7 per cent below February 2020 levels, before the pandemic, even if shoppers spend 14.8 per cent more, laying bare the impact of surging prices on households’ spending power.
Separate data published on Friday by the research company GfK showed that UK consumer confidence remained below minus 40 for the eighth consecutive month in December, the longest period of extreme pessimism in the nearly half-century history of the survey.
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