December retail sales boosted by last minute Christmas shoppers
UK retail sales edged up 1% on a like-for-like basis in December as retailers benefited from strong trading in the last few days before Christmas.
The figures from the monthly BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor show that total sales increased by 1.7%.
Over the three-months to December, food sales rose by 1.1% on a like-for-like basis and by 2.4% on a total basis.
During the same period non-food retail sales climbed by 1.1% on a like-for-like basis and by 1.3% on a total basis.
Over the three-months to December, online sales grew by 7.2% while in-store sales declined by 1.2% on a total basis and by 1.4% on a like-for-like basis.
Helen Dickinson BRC chief executive, said: ”December is the most important trading period of the year and with sales across 2016 growing more slowly than the previous year, it was all to play for in the final month. Despite the slow start to the Christmas trading period, the week itself was a bumper one and exceeded expectations. It delivered the majority of sales growth for the month, proving even bigger than the Black Friday period- which is the reverse of what we saw the year before.”
The BRC said many shoppers held out from buying their gifts until Christmas week, which saw sales up around 40% compared with the other weeks of the month. Food sales were the major contributor to total growth, while non-food sales were sluggish overall, despite a strong performance by categories driven by gifting items.
The figures mean that total growth for 2016 was 1.2%.
Dickinson added: “The challenge for retailers in 2017 will be to create real growth against a backdrop of growing inflationary pressures and persisting economic and political uncertainty. To this end, we’ll be continuing our work with Government to encourage policies that help retailers keep prices down for consumers.”
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