Britain's retail sector performed better than expected in November, even though the pace of growth slowed down from the previous month, official figures released on Thursday (15 December) showed.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), retail sales including auto fuel rose 5.9% on an annual basis last month, in line with expectations, but down from the 7.4% increase recorded in the previous month, which was the fastest rate of growth in 14 years.
"Black Friday" events boosted sales in November, the ONS said, adding all store types showed growth with the largest contribution coming from non-store retailing.
On a month-on-month basis, retail sales increased 0.5%, compared with analysts' expectations for no growth and with the 1.9% advance recorded in the previous month.
The retail industry continued to show strength on a quarterly basis as well, with the quantity bought in the three-month period increasing by 2.1% compared with the previous quarter to mark the 35th consecutive period of quarterly growth.
"The latest retail sales figures show yet another month of strong consumer spending, boosted by Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the run up to Christmas," said Craig Skelton retail & consumer partner at PwC.
"This Black Friday weekend was the biggest sales event seen to date, with many retailers opting to adjust their strategies by extending the length of their sales and fulfilling customer demand for online shopping as opposed to the high street."
Average store prices, including petrol stations, rose 0.1% year-on-year across all store types, marking the first year-on-year increase since June 2014. The figure was consistent with a report released earlier this week, which showed UK inflation rose to its highest level in over two years.
The ONS said inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, came in at 1.2% in November, up from 0.9% in October.
The figure was the highest rate on record since October 2014, when it stood at 1.3%. A break-up of ONS figures suggest much of the monthly rise was driven by increases in the cost of fuel, clothing, restaurants and hotels.
"Next year, however, will be very different; the squeeze on real incomes from higher inflation and slower employment growth will push the rate of growth of retail sales down sharply," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.