Blog: Leonie BarrieBlack Friday boosted by bargains

Leonie Barrie | 5 December 2011

US retailers posted a mixed bag of results in November, with earlier opening hours and Black Friday bargains helping to drive consumer traffic over the Thanksgiving weekend for some, but tougher comparisons with the year-ago period and weaker sales during the rest of the month weighing on others.

Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, so November retail sales are watched closely for first signs of how the holiday season is likely to pan out. During the month, same-store sales growth slowed to 3.3% - but traffic and spending over the Thanksgiving weekend reached historic highs of $52.4bn according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

After years of speculation and fierce debate, India looks set to ease restrictions on foreign investment in its booming retail sector. Business organisations and multinationals have welcomed the decision, but politicians remain divided on the issue.

Meanwhile, US retailer Marks & Spencer has provided an update on the progress of its Plan A ethical and sustainability programme - including its "Ethical Excellence" award for a denim factory in Bangladesh and a woven fabrics unit in Indonesia. Separately, the firm said it will begin selling a cashmere coat made from recycled fibres, which it claims is the UK's first closed loop clothing product from a major retailer.

Work has also begun on one of the Caribbean's largest industrial parks, which is being built in Haiti as part of an international project designed to help the country recover from the devastating earthquake that hit nearly two years ago. The initiative will generate thousands of jobs for apparel workers after South Korean garment maker Sae-A Trading promised to invest $70m in new facilities there.

But the US government has also admitted that a scheme introduced to help stimulate apparel exports from Haiti has been used by just one company this year.

And what started out as a challenge back in July by environmental pressure group Greenpeace to try to persuade global fashion brands and retailers to eliminate the discharge of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products has been gaining momentum ever since. So much so that Adidas, C&A, H&M, Li Ning, Nike and Puma now describe their efforts as a "game-changing collaboration."


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