UK retail sales grew by 1.5% in the run-up to Christmas and online retail saw a boost of 17.8%, according to the latest British Retail Consortium figures.
The BRC, releasing its results for the month of December, said like-for-like sales were up 0.3% on last year. However both the total sales growth and the like-for-like sales growth were lower than inflation, currently running at 2.7%.
Today's BRC figures were accompanied by some gloomy predictions from commentators. Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said: “Total growth for December hasn’t beaten inflation and is only on a par with December 2010, when severe weather put sales volumes on ice for much of the month. Online was the stand-out performer, showing its highest rate of growth this year. Shoppers are increasingly taking advantage of the convenience that online shopping offers at every stage of the customer journey, from comparing prices to reserving and collecting in-store.”
David McCorquodale, KPMG head of retail, warned: “January will be a tough month for retailers as consumers face up to their credit card bills after Christmas and it’s likely 2013 will bring more of the same challenges. While consumer confidence remains low, shoppers will tighten their belts and rein in their spending, making life difficult for the average UK retailer. There will be no boom and it’s likely more than a few will go bust.”