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Market Commentary

​​Weekly Retail & Leisure News - 15 December, 2014

November LFLs up 0.9%, as raft of retailers report positively

The British Retail Consortium announced this week that UK retail sales grew 0.9% on a LFL basis from November 2013, when they had increased 0.6% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 2.2%, against a 2.3% rise in November 2013 (influenced by Black Friday), the best performance in three months. While Black Friday has led to a proportion of sales being pulled forward, the consensus is that it provides a net positive benefit to the retail sector. Concentrating trade in this way will increase the operational and logistical pressure on retailers, some of which demonstrated they were unable to cope this time around. It will also decrease the tolerance consumers have for paying full price.

Further evidence of the positive impact of Black Friday can be seen in trading updates from retailers including N Brown, Ocado, Asos and Moss Bros. N Brown has reported that sales recovered in October and November, sending its shares up more than 8%. Ocado delivered a 15% increase in sales in the three months to the end of November despite the supermarket price war. Online fashion retailer Asos has reported total sales rose 8% in the three months to the end of November to £246m. And Moss Bros’s LFLs increased 7.8% in the 19 weeks to December 6.

Other retailers that have announced positive half year results this week include Debenhams and Sports Direct. Debenhams' sales rose 2.1% in 26 weeks to March 1 with UK sales up 1%. In addition Sports Direct’s Group revenues rose by 6.5% in the 26 weeks to October 26 to £1.43bn compared with the same period a year ago. It is clear that momentum is building in the UK Retail market, and that those retailers with strong multichannel offers should enjoy buoyant Christmas trade.

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