Black Friday gave UK retailers a stronger-than-expected boost last month as discounts spurred Britons to snap up electrical appliances and other household products.
The volume of goods sold in stores and online jumped 1.1% from October, the most in seven months, the Office for National Statistics said Thursday. Sales excluding auto fuel rose 1.2%. The increases far exceeded the median forecasts of economists.
Sales of household goods rose 2.9% and clothing sales climbed 1.4%. Non-store retailing, which includes online sales, saw a 2.6 percent increase. Food sales rose just 0.6%, as smaller stores claimed cold weather kept buyers away.
The ONS survey period ended on November 25, the day after Black Friday.
The pound rose after the data were published and was trading at $1.3453 as of 9:32 am in London, up 0.25% from a day earlier.
The increase last month means sales will rise in the fourth quarter unless December sees a decline of more than 3%. The last time there was a bigger fall was in January 2010. Retail sales rose 1.6% from a year earlier in November.
The ONS said seasonal adjustments capture only an element of the Black Friday effect, with retailers now offering discounts over a two-week period rather than a single day.
The figures may do little to alter the underlying picture for the British consumer in the crucial Christmas shopping period.
Brexit uncertainty, higher interest rates and the squeeze on living standards from rising prices are taking their toll. While inflation is expected to subside from its current level above 3%, wages may continue to lag behind for much of next year.