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UK retail sales drop on weaker online shopping

LONDON (AFP) – British retail sales dropped in November, hit by weaker online shopping despite Black Friday and the run up to year end festivities, official data showed yesterday.

Sales by volume fell 0.4 per cent last month after rising in October, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

“Retail sales fell overall in November, driven by a notable drop for online retailers, with Black Friday offers failing to provide their usual lift in this sector,” said ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan.

“However, department stores and household goods shops did report increased sales with these retailers telling us a longer period of Black Friday discounting helped boost sales.”

Total retail sales had jumped 0.9 per cent in October, a figure skewed by a drop in September which saw a public holiday for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

“The drop in retail sales in November suggests that consumers are buckling under the pressure of surging… inflation, despite additional government support for their energy bills,” noted senior United Kingdom (UK) economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics Gabriella Dickens.

“Retailers likely will endure a further drop in demand in December due to the heavy snowfall” seen across the UK so far this month.

Shoppers carry shopping bags at Covent Garden in central London. PHOTO: AFP