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Wednesday 13th of January 2010
January 12, 2010    

BRC: December retail sales in sharp rise

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by Kay Murchie

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has today announced that the High Street experienced the strongest December for eight years, boosting hopes that the UK economy will have emerged from recession in the fourth quarter.

According to the BRC, like-for-like sales grew 4.2% by value during December as last-minute Christmas shoppers boosted sales.

However, the BRC did highlight that the figures compare with December 2008 when confidence was low.

The figures come just a few days after major retailers announced bumper Christmas trading with Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Peacocks, Poundland, Co-op, M&S, Next, John Lewis and House of Fraser all reporting strong Christmas sales growth.

Commenting on the industry-wide figures, Stephen Robertson of the BRC said the sales were “stronger figures than we dared hope for”.

He adds: “After a surprisingly muted November, this is the best total sales growth for a December since 2005 and goes well beyond just making up for the sales fall the sector suffered a year ago.”

However, despite an excellent festive season for many retailers, the BRC has warned the High Street not to be bullish as a “very tough” 12 months is in store.

Mr Robertson warned that consumer spending may not grow as a result of tax hikes and continuing economic uncertainty.

In the meantime, January may see a significant fall in retail sales after research company Synovate revealed that the heavy snowfall is having a major affect on the number of people visiting the High Street.

The UK has been hit by the worst weather in 30 years and on Sunday 10 January, overall shopper numbers in non-food stores in the UK were down 14% compared with the equivalent Sunday in 2009, said Synovate, with the worst affected regions being southern England and Wales.

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