Retailers endured a 'tough' month in November leaving the Christmas season delicately poised.
Freezing and treacherous conditions added to concerns about the economy and personal finances in November, with retail sales nudging up by 0.7% on a like-for-like basis on the same month last year.
Figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG showed that sales of food increased in the month, although this partly reflected rising prices.
Sales of clothing and footwear were also positive in the month, helped by the poor weather.
Non food sales slumped in the month and like-for-like sales were down compared with the same point last year.
Consumers showed a reluctance to purchase big ticket items as a result of the uncertain economic climate.
On a brighter note, sales growth on the internet, mail order and via telephone picked up in November after slowing in October.
Sales were some 17.6% higher than a year ago, against a 16.9% increase in November 2009.
"It's been another tough month. Total sales growth has been weak now for eight months in a row and, given that VAT has pushed up annual inflation boosting sales values, underlying volume growth is virtually zero," said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.
"Customers are cutting back because they're worried about prospects for their own jobs and personal finances.
"With the final run-up underway, Christmas performance is delicately poised overall."
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