RETAILERS suffered their slowest December growth in six years after Black Friday spending disrupted the timing and rhythm of Christmas sales.
Like-for-like sales fell 0.4 per cent in the month and were just one-per-cent higher when including changes in store space, according to the latest sales monitor produced by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG.
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said the Black Friday shopping spree pulled festive sales forward into November and created a challenging lull in spending as consumers waited for future bargains.
He added: ‘Between Black Friday and Boxing Day retailers and consumers engaged in a three-week dance, each waiting for the other to take the lead and as a result sales suffered.’
Mr McCorquodale said the launch of Boxing Day sales and new-season full-price stock helped rescue the situation, particularly for fashion retailers.
The prices of many festive food and drink items were lower amid continued challenging conditions in the month.
But the BRC said it was encouraging that food industry sales still rose for the first time since Easter.
Joanne Denney-Finch is the chief executive of food and consumer goods industry charity IGD.
She said there was some cause for optimism in the sector amid signs that shoppers are becoming more positive about their outlook.
She added: ‘A fifth of them feel they’ll be better off in the year ahead, almost twice the amount who said the same in January 2011.’