Consumer confidence boost raises Black Friday sales hopes

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After a difficult 18 months on the high street, British retailers are reporting signs of recovery – just in time for their key sales period between Black Friday and Christmas.

An improvement in consumer confidence is “easing some economists’ concerns about the spending recovery”, the Financial Times reported, “despite a sharp increase in inflation over the past few months”.

The Consumer Confidence Index – a measure of the balance between economic optimism and pessimism among the British public – increased by three points this month, from minus 17 to minus 14. Analysts had expected it to fall by a point.

Joe Staton, client strategy director at data analysts GfK, which compiles the index, said the mood is finely balanced.

“Headline consumer sentiment has ticked upwards this month despite decade-high inflation,” he said. “Is this a sign that shoppers are ready to bounce back, after last year’s cancelled family gatherings, with a Christmas splurge in coming weeks? That’s how it looks, but consumers also know that when the festivities are over it’s going to be a tough year in 2022.”

Retail sales figures released today showed a 0.8% rise in sales volumes last month, after “the longest spending slump since 1996”, The Guardian reported. No growth had been recorded in the previous five months.

Toy shops and sporting goods retailer were among the companies benefiting from “a scramble to avoid disappointment amid the global supply chain disruption”, the paper added. High-street stalwarts Marks & Spencer and John Lewis have both said customers are starting this year’s Christmas shopping early.

They are also expected to splash out on Black Friday, the pre-Christmas sales event which falls on 26 November. “There has been a resurgence in the number of people looking to participate in the event,” said PricewaterhouseCoopers, which predicts sales of £9bn. It found that 59% of respondents to its survey said that they plan to make a Black Friday purchase, up from 51% in 2019 and just 38% last year.

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