Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy

Surprise increase in retail sales

Online shopping drives sales

Retail sales figures today revealed an unexpected 0.3% rise between October and November as official data continued to defy high street trading woes.

Economists had been forecasting a fall of 0.4% from Britain’s battered retail sector.

Last minute christmas shopping

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the recent retail performance was driven by sales of food and household goods, with a year-on-year rise of 1.5% in November. But the annual rate of sales volumes is the lowest since February 2006, according to the seasonally adjusted ONS data. And the figures showed the steepest fall in three-month sales within department stores since records began 22 years ago.

Sales of non-specialised stores – including department stores – dropped 3.8% in the three months to the end of November compared to a year ago. The ONS also revised sales volume figures downwards for the previous two months, with a fall of 0.3% in October against the 0.1% previous estimation and a drop of 0.6% in September compared with its initial 0.5% fall. However, today’s data showed that retailers rung up sales worth £5.8 billion a week last month, up 2.9% on last November.

Online sales increase

It also highlighted the rise of internet shopping, revealing around £220 million of online sales a week during November – which now represents 3.8% of total retail sales, up from 2.8% in June.

Economist Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, said the increase in internet sales helped boost the overall data and provides an explanation of the difference between today’s data and recent gloomy high street survey results.Figures yesterday showed that high street sales fell to their weakest for 25 years, according to the latest CBI poll. Mr Archer said desperate price-cutting among retailers was helping to lure in cash-strapped shoppers.

There are rules about sales to make sure customers don’t get burnt. Find out how to buy in sales, know your rights and find out if store discounts are legit. 

Charge it

Which? Best Buys credit card reports show the best credit card for you and make it easy to switch to a better credit card deal. Our money experts have analysed hundreds of different credit cards, looking at charges, cashback and interest rates to produce Which? best buy credit cards for 0% balance transfers, 0% on purchases, borrowing, spending, cashback and use abroad.

© Press Association 2008

Which? RSS news feed

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the . If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste https://www.which.co.uk/feeds/reviews/news.xml into your newsreader. Find out more about RSS in the Which? guide to RSS news feeds.

Sign up to the Which? weekly money email

For the latest money saving news direct to your inbox sign up the weekly Which? Money email to receive top money saving tips, product reviews and the latest news every Wednesday.

Back to top