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Christmas retail sales disappoint

Christmas retail sales disappoint

Category: Economy

Updated: 21/01/2011
First Published: 21/01/2011

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Retail sales over Christmas failed to rise year-on-year for the first time since 1998 last month.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have been blamed on the freak weather conditions that hit the UK throughout the month, as well as the spiralling cost of goods.

By volume, sales were unchanged compared with December 2009, although the value of sales increased by 2%.

The figures were significantly hit by a 3.4% fall in food sales, as well as a marked fall in the sales of petrol contributed to the disappointing figures.

The freezing weather meant that retailers selling clothing fared far better, recording a year-on year increase in sales volumes of 3.4%.

Overall, retail sales were up month-on-month, with a 2% rise in volume compared with November 2010.

The ONS said that value of internet retail sales in December amounted to £770 million.

Reacting to the figures, British Retail Consortium (BRC) director general, Stephen Robertson, said: "These official figures back up the BRC's own, which show 2010 ended on a flat note for many retailers.

"The unusually early winter weather compounded the effect of economic worries to make a difficult Christmas worse.

"The Bank of England must resist calls to increase interest rates while economic recovery remains so fragile. These figures show the private sector still needs support. Hard-pressed families are already under pressure from higher VAT while National Insurance goes up for many in April.

"Concerns about job security and renewed weakness in the housing market have knocked consumer confidence again.

"Holding interest rates and keeping the March Budget free of new burdens are key to enabling retailers to continue their vital contribution to job creation and growth."

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