Retailers will be on edge at the end of the week as Black Friday rolls around to ring the bell for the start of the pivotal festive period.

Many companies have anticipated a sales boost over the next weeks, when consumers go on the usual Christmas splurge, in the hope it will lift up some otherwise grim results.

Funny enough – or probably not, considering the current economic environment – data provider GfK is releasing stats on UK consumer confidence, which dropped by two points last month in face of Brexit uncertainty.

Outside of the high street and online stores, it is scheduled to be a quiet Friday in the City diary, unless McColl’s Retail Group PLC (LON:MCLS) or Reach PLC (LON:RCH) pull a rabbit out of the hat. 

Is McColl’s plan going anywhere?

Rather than a barnstorming Black Friday offer, investors in convenience store operator McColl’s will be hoping the year-end trading update offers reassurance after the previous quarterly update revealed weaker like-for-like sales growth.

The weakness had been anticipated by management and factored into the reduced guidance given at the interim results in July, however, with good news including a reduction in debt.

In the medium-term, the company is looking to review its product range, improve availability on shelf and optimise the store estate.

Broker Liberum said previously that the net debt reduction seen in the first half was a positive sign, as reducing leverage will be “key”.

“Financial year 2019 needs to be a year of stabilisation for McColl’s, both operationally and financially,” analysts said in a note published in August, at the time of the last quarterly update.

Reaching out

A trading update from Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers owner Reach PLC (LON:RCH) “should be interesting”, analysts at Peel Hunt have said.

Over and above the usual issues about the performance of the advertising market and cost cutting, the “real story” is whether the group is interested in another potential deal.

Last week, Johnston Press, the owner of the i newspaper and The Scotsman, called in the administrators and will be taken over by its lenders after a formal sale process received no offers of “sufficient value”.

There has been speculation that Reach was one of those involved in the auction, which the company didn’t rule out.

“Such deals facilitate the cost management process more than delivering top line growth. Previous deals have not transformed the perception of the group. Repeating the process and hoping for a different outcome is the definition of something, I believe,” opined Peel Hunt’s Malcolm Morgan in a note.

Significant announcements expected for Friday November 29:

Trading announcements: McColl’s Retail Group PLC (LON:MCLS), Reach PLC (LON:RCH)

Economic data: GfK UK consumer confidence, UK mortgage approvals