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Cyber Monday and extended sales credited for department stores shopping surge

Extended Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales saw a shopping surge for department stores, which raked in an almost 11% increase in sales on the previous year, official figures suggest.

stores (PA)

The bumper sales moved from a one-day event, helping to spread spending over November and December last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Overall sales last month were up 2.6% compared to December 2014, but down by 1% on November last year.

Shoppers continued to take advantage of web-based deals, with online shopping accounting for around one in every £8 of retail spending last month, not counting fuel sales.

The average weekly spend online was £837.2 million – and while the value of online sales was down 5.2% on November, it grew by 8.2% year-on-year.

Mild weather in December accounted for a 4.2% fall in clothing and footwear sales, the ONS said.

Retailers including Next, Marks & Spencer and Sports Direct have all blamed an unseasonably mild start to winter for poor trading over the festive season.

The amount spent in the retail industry fell by 1% compared to December 2014, and by 1.4% compared to November last year.

The ONS said: “We have seen a slightly different spending pattern in department stores in 2015 where higher year-on-year growth has been reported in December 2015 compared with December 2014.

“This suggests that the pattern of spending has changed between 2014 and 2015 as department stores moved from a one-day ‘Black Friday’ event to week-long events including ‘Cyber Monday’ and therefore spending was more spread out over the two months.”

Consumers, including motorists, benefited from price reductions, as average store prices fell by 3.2%, the 18th consecutive month of year-on-year price falls.

In good news for the retail industry things have been on the up for almost three years. December was the 32nd consecutive month which saw a growth in the quantity shoppers are buying.

The figures show that mobile and online shopping are now a focus for consumers, according to Iain Devine of digital commerce consultancy Salmon.

He said the most successful retailers were those that had put in place “strong online operations”, adding that those are the ones likely to succeed in the year ahead.

Mr Devine said: “The most successful retailers were those that planned their online peak operations strategy, briefing relevant departments to ensure all online trading and operations teams could anticipate surges and were ready to react.

“Those who have seamlessly aligned their online channels from front-end to back-end will be the ones to triumph in 2016 as mobile and online shopping continue to grow. This will help retailers to combat the challenges posed by falling prices and savvy consumers hunting for bargains.”


Photo from Lauren Hurley / PA Wire