November retail sales illustrative of the volatile times we live in now says RSM

Britain’s November retail sales decreased by 3.8 per cent in volume and 4.1 per cent in value when compared with October. This fell during a period when all non-essential retail stores were closed in England from 5 November to 2 December.

Contrast between the sector’s winners and losers remains stark. Food store sales were up 3.1 per cent and household goods grew 1.6 per cent on the month. Fashion continues to suffer with clothing and accessories sales down a devastating 19 per cent when compared with the previous month. Unsurprisingly online penetration grew again in November taking 31.4 per cent of the proportion of all sales.

Jacqui Baker, Retail Director at RSM, said: “If there’s one thing these results emphatically illustrate it’s the volatile times we live in now. November was a double-edged sword for retailers. The most lucrative trading event of the year came coupled with a new national lockdown in England. 

“Analysts’ predictions of the best Black Friday on record went swiftly out the window and the market were left uncertain of the impact on consumer confidence. Newly adopted behaviours for online shopping continued to prop up the market with the proportion of online penetration stepping back up in November. Many retailers stretched out Black Friday promotions to help maintain demand across the month and spread out orders. But this wasn’t enough to boost sales beyond what we saw in October resulting in a fall in both volume and value of sales during the month. 

“Disparity between bricks and mortar and online continues to grow, as does the contrast between winners and losers. Food and household goods retained growth in their categories whilst store-based fashion retailers are seeing sales suffer at unprecedented levels. The impact of the lockdown in England was too much to bear for some and we saw the fall of some of fashion’s Highstreet giants at the start of December. 

“With the end of the rent moratorium and business rates relief drawing near, what the sector needs now is acknowledgement of the broken model for Highstreet retailers. With the impact that Brexit will inevitably bring to supply chains and labour markets, Government must step soon to supply some relief to retailers for the coming year.”


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