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Retail sales volumes bounced back strongly in November as growth in non-food saw the sector 7.2% higher than pre-Covid levels. 

The Office of National Statistics found that retail sales volumes rose by 1.4% in November 2021 and were 7.2% higher than their pre-coronavirus February 2020 levels. 

Non-food stores sales volumes rose by 2.0% in November 2021, because of growth in clothing stores (2.9%) and other non-food stores (2.8%) such as computer stores, toy stores and jewellery stores, with retailers noting strong trading related to Black Friday and in the lead up to Christmas. 

Clothing stores sales volumes in November 2021 were also above pre-coronavirus levels for the first time; 3.2% above their level in February 2020. 

Fuel sales volumes rose by 3.7% in November 2021 following some disruption to supplies in the previous two months, albeit volumes were 1.9% below their February 2020 levels. 

However, food store sales volumes fell by 0.2% in November 2021. 

Despite the fall in November, food sales volumes were 3.2% above levels in February 2020. 

The proportion of retail sales online fell to 26.9% in November 2021, its lowest proportion since March 2020 (22.6%) and a continuation of a falling trend since its peak in February 2021 (36.8%). 

Morning update 

Consumer confidence fell back ahead of the crucial Christmas period, according to GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index  

The overall index decreased one point to -15 in December.  

Two measures were up, and three were down in comparison to its previous 19 November announcement.  

The index measuring changes in personal finances over the last 12 months increased two points to -5; which is four points better than December 2020.  

However, the forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months has decreased one point to +1; and is two points lower than this time last year. 
The measure for the general economic situation of the country during the last 12 months is one point better at –39, which is 26 points higher than in December 2020.   
Expectations for the general economic situation over the coming 12 months have dropped by one point to –24 and remains 11 points higher than December 2020. 
Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director, GfK says: “News about the Omicron variant could not have arrived at a worse time for festive celebrations. As thoughts began turning to Christmas and the New Year, Omicron jumped out of nowhere and threatened to bring Santa’s sleigh crashing to a halt.  

“Both measures that look at how people see the coming year have slipped – down one point for personal finances over the next 12 months and down one point for the wider economy during 2022. This is driven by concerns over the soaring cost of living with the prospect of looming interest rate rises piling on more pressure.  

“We end 2021 on a depressing note and it looks like it will be a bleak midwinter for UK consumer confidence possibly with new COVID curbs and little likelihood of any real uplift in the first months of 2022.” 

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is up another 0.2% to 7,277.9pts.

Early risers include McBride, up 4.7% to 56.9p, Marks & Spencer, up 2.5% to 228.6p and WH Smith, up 2.1% to 1,362p.

Fallers include Deliveroo, down 3.1% to 207.4p, McColl’s Retail Group, down 2.1% to 11.6p and Just Eat, down 1.8% to 3,811.5p.

Yesterday in the City 

The FTSE 100 ended six days of consecutive falls, bouncing back 1.3% to 7,260.6pts yesterday. 

Domino’s Pizza Group was a major riser, jumping 22.1% to 422.6p after agreeing a new deal with franchisees that will see investment in outlets and an acceleration of new openings. 

Other risers included THG, up 8.1% to 180.8p, Ocado, up 3.8% to 1,697p, Nichols, up 3% to 1,380p, Bakkavor, up 3% to 124.6p, C&C Group, up 2.6% to 222.6p and Compass Group, up 1.8% to 1,534.5p. 

The day’s fallers included McBride, which dropped 8.1%  to 54.4p after issuing another profits warning. 

Other fallers included B&M European Value Retail, down 2.3% to 616.4p, Hotel Chocolat, down 2.2% to 484p, McColl’s Retail Group, down 1.7% to 11.8p, Science in Sport, down 1.6% to 60.5p and WH Smith, down 1.6% to 1,334.5p.