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Retailers enjoy December sales rise

Retailers enjoyed a strong Christmas as sales rose 6.2% by value in December, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Sales volumes increased 2.6% on the snow-affected December 2010, driven by fuel and textiles predominantly. Month-on-month retail sales volumes in December increased by 0.6%.

Food sales volumes rose 1.2% year-on-year while sales values increased 5.8% over the same period to £16.1bn.

Higher prices drove sales by value, with prices increasing by an average 4.2% over the year. This is the lowest growth rate since October 2010 when average prices increased by 4%.

Sales volumes in clothing and footwear increased 11.2% and 6.3% respectively.

Household goods stores decreased 3.6% in volume.

Prices in-store were estimated to have increased by 2.4%, down on the 3.6% estimated year-on-year price in November.

Richard Hyman, strategic retail adviser to Deloitte, said: “Whilst today’s figures appear to suggest that UK retailers did reasonably well this Christmas, this doesn’t tally with the anecdotal evidence I hear from retailers on a daily basis, nor with the evidence we have seen through the scale of distress on the high street in the first few weeks of the year.

“Looking at the year ahead, it is clear the industry is in for a tough 12 months.  Lower inflation may ease the squeeze on consumers a touch, but there are bigger, structural issues for retailers to face.” 

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