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Bumper Christmas outstrips Black Friday

Retailers had a “bumper” Christmas thanks largely to a boost in festive food sales, data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG shows.

Like-for-like sales grew by 1% year on year in the five weeks to 31 December, the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor indicates. Total sales were up 1.7% on 2015.

The BRC and KPMG said, overall, it was a “strong finish to a rollercoaster year”.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Despite the slow start to the Christmas trading period, the week itself was a bumper one and exceeded expectations. It delivered the majority of sales growth for the month, proving even bigger than the Black Friday period – which is the reverse of what we saw the year before.

“It was a polarised month as shoppers held out for the Christmas week, which saw sales up around 40% compared with the other weeks of the month.

“Food sales were the major contributor to total growth, while non-food sales on the other hand were sluggish overall, despite a strong performance by categories driven by gifting items.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “Retailers were helped by the timing of Christmas, which fell on a Sunday, giving shoppers the chance to use the weekend for a final dash to the shops delivering a last-minute boost to sales.”

Over the three months to December, food sales increased 1.1% on a like-for-like basis and 2.4% on a total basis. Non-food sales rose 1.1% on a like-for-like basis and 1.3% on a total basis.

Online sales grew 7.2%, while in-store sales declined 1.2% on a total basis and 1.4% on a like-for-like basis.

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