Retail sales growth slows in December
Year-on-year growth in UK retail sales slowed in December despite a surge in online sales.
According to figures relaesed by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, total sales in December were up 1.8% on the same month last year compared to year-on-year growth of 2.3% in November. On a like-for-like basis, sales edged up 0.4% on December 2012 compared to a 0.6% year-on-year increase in November.
Meanwhile online non-food sales leapt by 19.2% year-on-year in December to mark the biggest increase since March 2010.
Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said: "This is a respectable result overall, in line with our prediction that Christmas trading in 2013 would reflect that while confidence levels were higher than the previous year, this wasn't always matched by more money in pockets. The last-minute rush also arrived as expected, giving a major boost to sales in the final few days before Christmas after a fairly flat showing mid-month.
"Multichannel is the other big story of the season. This Christmas we've seen innovative retailers using click and collect and other approaches to make a virtue of both their website and their physical shops. And that's something we see growing in importance. Fast deliveries and social media offers have also helped us to plan ahead and cover off our Christmas lists efficiently.”
The BRC noted that in non-food, toys and electricals were key battlegrounds with customers responding well to competitive offers. Practical gifts such as bedroom furniture, children's clothing and kitchen appliances also proved popular.
Dickinson added: "Overall, this result meets expectations and draws to a close what has been a year of encouraging but fragile recovery. Retailers will be hoping that a good response to new ranges coupled with a continuing boost from post-Christmas sales events gets 2014 off to a promising start."
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said: "The new year will lead retailers to invest more in multichannel capabilities and many will use the quieter first quarter to do just that, or face the prospect of losing out further. For consumers, paying for Christmas will be the first priority of 2014; until wage growth outpaces inflation many households will remain confined to a tight budget for the foreseeable future."
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