Retail sales decline by 3.8 per cent in November

Retail sales volumes decreased by 3.8 per cent last month compared to October, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The decline followed the closure of non-essential stores in November as part of the government’s COVID-19 guidelines.

But despite the monthly fall, overall sales remain above their pre-pandemic levels.

The ONS research shows that in November 2020, clothing store sales saw a sharp fall in sale volumes when compared with the previous month, at negative 19 per cent.

The year-on-year growth rate in the volume of retail sales increased by 2.4 per cent, with businesses suggesting that consumers had brought forward Christmas spending.

Online retailing accounted for 31.4 per cent of total retailing compared with 28.6 per cent in October 2020, with an overall growth of 74.7 per cent in the value of sales when compared with November 2019.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, commented on the results: “Retail sales growth slowed slightly, as many shops in England were forced to close during the November lockdown,” Clothing, footwear and bookshops were all particularly badly affected by the forced closure over the month, including Black Friday, and saw sales drop significantly.
“On the other hand, higher sales from retailers who remained open, bolstered by stronger online and click-and-collect operations, kept growth positive overall in the run up to Christmas.

“This headline growth figure masks significant challenges for many businesses on high streets across the country, as sales have plummeted and they face the threat of rising costs which they cannot afford. The Government should look to support these businesses through a targeted extension to coronavirus business rates relief or we will see further unnecessary store closures and job losses.”

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