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ONS detects Black Friday effect in November retail sales rise

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Black Friday looks to have played a part in boosting online spending online spending growth that helped to boost overall retail sales by 1.1% in November, according to official figures this week.

Ecommerce shoppers spent 10.2% more in November than they did a year earlier, with 17% of all retail spending being made online, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Retail Sales Report for November 2017.

Across all channels, shoppers spent 4.6% more than they did last year, excluding automotive fuel, to buy 1.5% more goods. They spent 1.4% more than they did last month, and bought 1.1% more goods.

However, this year’s growth lags behind November 2016, when online sales grew by 24.9% thanks to the Black Friday effect, and shoppers spent 5.9% across the retail industry.

Commenting on this year’s figures, Rhian Murphy, ONS senior statistician, said: “Underlying retail sales growth remained reasonably strong in the last few months. Household goods stores and a good November, with a number of businesses saying that Black Friday promotions boosted sales.”

Online, textile, clothing and footwear retailers saw their online sales grow by 19.4% to account for 12.8% of all sales in that sector. Sales at household goods traders grew by 19.4%, accounting for 12.8% of all sales. Sales in department stores were slow, at 0.4%, and accounted for 13.8% of sales in the category. Food sales, meanwhile, grew by 4.6% to account for 5.3% of spending.

Commenting, John Gillan, managing director, UK and Northern Europe at Criteo , said: “We’ve seen November retail sales activity evolve significantly in the last three years, from a single peak on Black Friday to deals being spread across the month.

Retailers are beginning to trigger deals earlier and earlier to stay competitive around the holidays, with the likes of Amazon rolling out its ‘countdown to Black Friday’ deals from as early as the first of November. In fact our research shows shopping days peak as early as the November 7 and 15, with an average basket size of £101 across the month and £132 on Black Friday.

“These extended deals are indicative of the overall trend towards a ‘Golden Quarter’ of retail activity, with offers and purchases spread over three key months of the year.”

Criteo’s own research suggests that 83% of UK shoppers now use a variety of devices and channels to buy, while 28% of shoppers order goods online to pick-up in the store, and more than half of transactions are completed on mobile phones. It also suggests that increases in ecommerce came earlier in November than in past years, partly due to retailers introducing discounts before Black Friday to compete with Amazon. That said, shoppers are also browsing for Christmas gifts as early as November.

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