November a 'tough month' for retailers - BRC

<p>Christmas remains delicately poised with internet sales unlikely to make up for the shortfall in sales caused by the recent disruptive weather, the British Retail Consortium has claimed.</p><p>Sales in November were up 0.7% on a like for like basis and up 2.8% in total. Non-food sales were down 0/5% on a like for like basis and up 1.1% in total. However, there was a marked increase in internet, mail order and phone sales last month, up 17.6% on a year ago.</p><p>The BRC said: &quot;Book sales remained down on a year ago, despite widespread promotions and special deals. Celebrity cookbooks and biographies were popular, with pre-Christmas deals.&quot;<br />According to Nielsen BookScan data, UK consumers spent the lowest amount on books since 2006. Sales were &pound;160.4m, down &pound;2.3m on last year.</p><p>Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: &quot;It&rsquo;s been another tough month. Total sales growth has been weak now for eight months in a row and, given that VAT has pushed up annual inflation boosting sales values, underlying volume growth is virtually zero.</p><p>&quot;Customers are cutting back because they&rsquo;re worried about prospects for their own jobs and personal finances. Non-food sales are being hit hardest. But, if there is good news, it&rsquo;s that the cuts outlined in the Government&rsquo;s Spending Review have not made things worse.</p><p>&quot;With the final run-up underway, Christmas performance is delicately poised. Overall, the extreme weather has dramatically undermined sales over the last ten days. Retailers will be hoping disruption eases so that sales lost early in the month are made up over the next couple of weeks and not lost entirely. Booming internet sales alone are unlikely to make up sales shortfalls.&quot;</p>