What's going on?
Data out on Tuesday showed UK retail sales surged last month, and bargain-hunting Brits are now just crossing their fingers that all that shopping arrives sometime – anytime – soon.
What does this mean?
Savvy shoppers were snapping up Black Friday deals left, right, and center last month – partly because of low prices, sure, but also in a bid to get ahead of potential shipping delays this holiday season. That helped specialist retailers – including gift, toy, and jewelry stores – post a 21% increase in sales compared to the November before the pandemic. Clothing sales likewise boasted their biggest increase since Covid arrived, but it wasn’t just stores that did well: bars, pubs, and clubs saw their sales climb by 34% versus the same time in 2019. Add it all up, and retail sales in the UK were up a pre-pandemic-busting 4.1%.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: No more sales.
Brits had good reason to hunt a bargain, with nearly 90% of them on edge about rising prices, according to data from credit card provider Barclaycard. They can’t even rely on getting things cheap in the January sales: a major retail organization just said that rising costs could leave retailers struggling to cut prices in the New Year. That alone could damage consumer spending, and then there’s the ever-increasing likelihood that the Bank of England will raise interest rates in the next few months – a move that would leave shoppers with even less cash to spend.
Zooming out: Hot property.
Life’s bigger buys are getting more expensive too, with strong demand and a property shortage pushing up Britain’s real estate prices. In fact, data out on Tuesday showed the average house price rose to a record £273,000 ($361,000) last month – up 8.2% from the same time last year, and the quickest three-month rise since 2006.