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Initial uplift in 2019 retail sales

A 0.9% decrease in January Sales prices compared with 2018 helped retail sales to rise last month, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

Year-on-year sales volumes for clothing and footwear increased 5.5% for the four-week period to 26 January, as stores capitalised on post-Christmas sales.

The proportion of online sales as a percentage of the total retail sales in the UK decreased to 18.8%, from 19.8% in December.

Online spend on clothing and footwear fell by 37.1% compared with the previous month, and the struggling department store sector suffered a decrease of 41.7%.

Year-on-year average store prices only increased by 0.4%, the lowest price increase since November 2016.

Rachel Lund, head of insights and analytics at the British Retail Consortium, said:The new year brought a bit of cheer to retailers, after a dismal Christmas. With the school holiday extending longer into January this year and bargain hungry consumers drawn to discounts, retailers saw an uplift in spending.”

“While this is positive news, few believe we are seeing the beginning of a turnaround in the fortunes of the industry: the discounts that drew shoppers into stores won’t last forever and, with uncertainty surrounding Brexit weighing on consumer confidence, once the period of seasonal promotions is over, households are likely to remain cautious with their spending.”

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