British retail sales slid unexpectedly in November, despite the men’s soccer World Cup and the Black Friday sales promotions, showing the stress felt by many households as the cost-of-living crisis eats into their finances.
In the latest warning sign that Britain’s economy might have entered a recession, retail sales volumes dropped by a month-on-month 0.4% from October. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a 0.3% rise.
Sales had risen by 0.9% in October, a bounce from September when sales were hit by a one-off public holiday to mark the funeral of Queen Elizabeth.
“The fact that not even the World Cup and Black Friday Christmas shopping could produce an increase in sales will come as a major disappointment to retailers, especially considering the increase last month,” said Lynda Petherick, retail lead at consultancy group Accenture in the UK and Ireland.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said some of the drop could reflect how the data did not include “Cyber Monday” online sales which fell on Nov. 28, which will be included in December’s figures.
Still, Friday’s figures were consistent with other signs that consumers are struggling. Retail sales volumes fell to 1.5% below their pre-pandemic 2019 level.