Retail sales beat expectations as Christmas shopping starts early

Good morning.

We kick off with some positive numbers for retailers, as sales in November outstripped expectations.

Retail sales grew 1.4pc last month — well ahead of the 0.8pc growth forecast. This was driven by a shift to earlier Christmas shopping, as well as Black Friday deals.

But the outlook is less rosy for brick-and-mortar retailers, with the spread of the new Covid variant threatening to keep shoppers away over the next few months.

5 things to start your day 

1)  Just Eat joins fast grocery race with Asda deal  Takeaway group plays catch-up with rivals Deliveroo and Uber Eats in deal with fourth-largest supermarket

2) Mobile masts takeover ‘threatens higher bills’  Competition and Markets Authority probes Cellnex’s proposed £9bn acquisition of 24,000 sites from Three owner CK Hutchison

3) Nicola Sturgeon’s government may have offered illegal subsidies to steel plant  Scottish ministers accused of ‘amateur hour’ over deal with Sanjeev Gupta, whose businesses face inquiry

4) Brace for more restrictions, warns cinema chief  Vue chief Tim Richards says further measures to tackle omicron will come ‘sooner rather than later’

5) Harrods Boxing Day sale to start 10 days early as omicron bites  Coronavirus variant is hammering footfall in London’s West End

What happened overnight 

Asian equities mostly fell on Friday, pulling back from the previous day’s rally. Tokyo, Singapore, Wellington, Manila and Jakarta all dropped into the red while Sydney, Seoul and Taipei edged up.

Coming up today

  • Corporate: No scheduled FTSE 350 reporters
  • Economics: GfK consumer confidence (UK), retail sales (UK), services PMI (UK), consumer price index (EU), Ifo business confidence (Ger)

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