Retail sales forecast to be £342bn for 2014
Estimates from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills also show that this has been a record year for smaller firms who have turned over £72 billion in the last year.
The retail sector now employs 10% of the UK workforce, equivalent to over three million people and nearly 90,000 apprentices.
The advent of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are expected to have contributed to the record jump in sales, with the pre-Christmas November sales up by 5.2% on last year, the department said.
More than 16 million people shopped in small independent businesses on 6 December which was Small Business Saturday - 2.7 million more shoppers than the same time last year. Tills in independent shops and small businesses rang in an average of £30.56 per person, which equates to a total of £504 million across the UK as a whole – up £36 million on last year.
Business minister Matthew Hancock said: “The return of the high street is fantastic news and goes to show that we are on course for prosperity. More business are starting up, thriving and creating jobs for people.
“The rise of independent retailers is testament to the wave of entrepreneurialism sweeping the UK as part of our strong economic recovery.
“But there’s more to do to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business.”
Nick Boles, minister responsible for retail, added: “High streets have cause for celebration after a bumper year of sales. It’s particularly pleasing to see independent shops doing so well.
“We are determined to help them thrive and look forward to 2015, which I want to make an even more successful year for Britain’s retailers.”
Earlier this month, Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement that there will be a full review of the structure of the business rates system alongside the extension of the 2% cap on business rate increases for next year.
In addition, the Autumn Statement also included announcements on voluntary regulation and Employers’ National Insurance Contributions for Young Apprentices.
Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The incredibly competitive nature of the retail industry means that there are always great opportunities to start up a business. With the meteoric rise of internet shopping (£1 in every £5 spent on non-food items is now spent online), barriers to entry in retailing are lower than ever.
“Established retailers are also doing well and the crucial shopping period in the run up to Christmas (including Black Friday) saw total sales up 2.2% compared with November last year.
“We’re delighted that the government has decided to back British retailing by committing to review the Business Rates system.”
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