Cyber Monday and sales credited for stores surge

Unseasonably mild start to winter blamed for poor trading
Unseasonably mild start to winter blamed for poor trading

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.

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 £837.2m - 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 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 benefited from price reductions, as average store prices fell by 3.2%, the 18th consecutive month of year-on-year price falls.