Retail sales grew at the weakest pace for any November since 2011 as hopes of a surge from Black Friday discounts fell flat.
The British Retain Consortium (BRC) said the total value of retail sales from 1st-28th November was 0.7% higher than in the November period of 2014, slowing from 0.9% the month before.
In its previous survey, the BRC speculated that shoppers were holding fire for Black Friday at the end of November.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at survey sponsor KPMG, said: “November’s relatively flat sales figures are a reality check for the retail sector, with consumers holding off for a Black Friday bargain pitted against retailers determined to hold on to their hard-earned margins.”
The BRC said the build-up to the Christmas sales period was one of the hardest to read in years, with shoppers increasingly purchasing goods online. Another survey of adults conducted for the Money Advice Trust charity showed that more than a third of British consumers planned to borrow to pay for Christmas presents this year.
“With underlying borrowing having risen sharply over the last year, we are concerned that this extra Christmas spending will be the last straw for many household budgets,” commented Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust.
Unsecured lending to consumers in September and October increased 8.2% compared with the year before, a pace not seen since 2006, according to Bank of England data.
The BRC said its measure of retail spending on a like-for-like basis fell 0.4% year-on-year in November after a 0.2% decline in October. Retail sales volumes also showed a 0.6% drop in October, which some analysts have linked to consumers waiting for Black Friday before splashing out.