Furniture and flooring retail sales both rise in November

Furniture retail sales increased during November on last month and were flat against an annual comparison.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, furniture and lighting retail sales rose 10.6% to £1.46bn from £1.32bn in October. Compared to the previous year, sales were consistent at £1.46bn.

Floorcovering retail sales also rose month-on-month, up by 14.3% to £267.1m from £233.6m. Compared to the same time last year, sales increased by 5.1% from £253.9m.

Total non-food store sales volumes (the total of department, clothing, household and other non-food stores) rose by 2.3% in November 2023, from an increase of 0.2% in October 2023. Retailers suggested that earlier Black Friday sales and wider discounting contributed to the increase.

Despite the strong increase over the month, non-food store sales volumes were 2.7% below their pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

Within non-food, all sub-sectors reported increases in sales volumes over the month. Household goods store sales volumes rose by 3.5% in November 2023 following a fall of 2.6% in October 2023. The increase over the month was mainly because of strong growth in furniture and lighting stores as retailers reported discounts during November 2023.

Overall, total retail sales volume (quantity bought) in November rose by 0.1%, while the value (amount spent) increased by 3.8% to £44.7bn year-on-year. On a monthly comparison, volumes were up 1.3%, with the value spent up by 1%.

Online spending values rose by 1.5% from October to November 2023, mainly because of a strong increase in the sub-sector other non-food stores.

As the monthly increase in the value of online retail was slightly larger than the monthly increase in the value of total retail, the proportion of online sales rose slightly, from 26.5% in October 2023 to 26.6% in November 2023.

The proportion of online sales is broadly consistent with the average of the preceding 12 months (26.5%) and substantially above pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels (19.7% in February 2020).

Commenting on the retail sales figures for November, Darren Morgan, Director of Economic Statistics at the ONS, said: “Retail sales grew strongly in November as heavy Black Friday discounting encouraged shoppers to spend. However, with the three-month trend continuing to fall and overall sales still below pre-pandemic levels, it’s still a challenging time for retailers.

“In the latest month, household goods retailers, clothing shops and department stores all reported robust sales, with computer stores, sports equipment, toy shops and cosmetics stores particularly benefitting from the impact of their Black Friday promotions.

“Supermarket sales ticked up a little, but it was specialist food and drink stores that had a really strong November due to customers stocking up early for Christmas and spending more than we have traditionally seen at this time of year.”

Responding to the latest ONS Retail Sales Index figures, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Many retailers tried to give sales a needed boost in November by starting their Black Friday sales even earlier this year. Cosmetics and toiletries had another strong month as consumers continued to splurge on smaller indulgences. Some categories that usually do well in the Black Friday month, such as household electrical appliances, household goods, and furniture saw weak growth.”

“Retailers anticipate that consumers will be making a last-minute dash to their favourite stores in the final days leading up to Christmas. People in retail will be working tirelessly in stores, warehouses and delivery services to make sure we all find what they need, keeping shelves stocked and delivering goods. As stores and delivery services become increasingly busy this weekend, it is essential that we all play our part in creating a friendly and enjoyable environment for other customers and staff this Christmas, and we ask for patience, kindness and consideration.”

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