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December retail sales up 4.1%

The British Retail Consortium said a “dazzling” pre-Christmas rush of festive shoppers helped to boost UK retail sales growth in December.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

December retail sales up 4.1%

The British Retail Consortium said a “dazzling” pre-Christmas rush of festive shoppers helped to boost UK retail sales growth in December.

The BRC-KMPG Retail Sales Monitor revealed that UK retail sales values were 2.2% higher on a like-for-like basis from December 2010, when sales fell by 0.3%. On a total basis, sales were up 4.1%, against a 1.5% increase in December 2010. 

However, the BRC said the figures were boosted by the comparison with weak sales in 2010, which were hit by snow disruption, and this year’s heavy discounting by retailers.

Food sales growth picked up strongly and non-food also improved, but with sales often promotion-led. Clothing and footwear also improved on last December's weak sales. Homeware sales were up but big-ticket items and furniture sales remained down on a year ago.

Non-food non-store (internet, mail-order and phone) sales growth picked up sharply from November's low with sales up 18.5% on a year ago.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: "A better than hoped-for December closed a relentlessly tough year for retailers, but these figures hinged on a dazzling last pre-Christmas week and were boosted by some major one-off factors. We're not witnessing any fundamental change in customers' circumstances."

He added: "A solid December result hasn't rescued a pretty miserable year."

Helen Dickinson, head of retail, KPMG, said: "Whilst these results must be viewed in a positive light, it must also be noted that they have come at the end of a year which witnessed declines in most non-food sectors and are against December 2010's weak results, which saw sales badly affected by poor weather. Sadly no-one expects this level of demand to be indicative of the year ahead."

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