UK retail sales in unexpected fall in November

| December 17, 2009 | 0 Comments

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has today revealed a fall in UK retail sales for the month of November.

There were hopes that November would see early Christmas shoppers flooding the High Street but according to the ONS, sales volumes fell by 0.3% compared with October, less than analysts forecasts of a 0.4% rise.

On an annual basis, sales were up 3.1% in November, however, it was down on the 3.7% annual rise experienced in October.

Retail sales rose a revised 0.6% in October compared with the previous month and analysts had hoped that this would continue but November saw falling trade at department stores and a slump in demand for clothing.

Commenting on the figures, Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “The November retail sales are very disappointing even allowing for the upward revision to sales in October. It is particularly striking that department store sales fell so heavily in November.

“Much will depend both for retailers and for hopes of significant economic growth in the fourth quarter as to what extent consumers are holding back their Christmas shopping to the last minute, very possibly in the hope of getting decent late bargains,” he added.

Meanwhile, there were hopes of a rise in consumer spending in November before the VAT rate returns to 17.5% on January 1.

The news will be a disappointment as the UK has been lagging behind other economies and is now the last major economy that is still in recession.

In other news, the ONS revealed yesterday that UK unemployment rose by 21,000 in the three months to October to 2.491 million, taking the unemployment rate to 7.9% - a 13-year high.

However, the increase was slower than expected and was the smallest quarterly rise since March-May 2008.

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