BRC reports 0.3% fall in December retail sales

| January 11, 2011 | 0 Comments

The heavy snowfall which gripped most of the country last month was expected to impact negatively on retail sales.

However, retail sales fell just 0.3% on a like-for-like basis, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)/KPMG retail sales monitor.

However, total sales rose 1.5% against 6% growth the previous year - a sharp drop but again, not as bad as feared.

The BRC said: “The unusually early winter weather made a difficult Christmas worse for retailers.”

Helen Dickinson of KPMG, added: “Christmas was not a complete disaster but it was impacted by the snow, which impacted certain retailers more than others.”

However, the figures suggest that consumers are also feeling the pinch from the Government’s spending cuts and the recent VAT hike - which are expected to impact negatively on retail sales in the coming months.

According to a recent report by the Centre for Retail Research and Kelkoo, the online shopping group, retail sales will slump by more than £2 billion in the first quarter of 2011 because of the VAT rise from 17.5% to 20%.

The UK’s biggest retailers are currently reporting their Christmas trading figures, and it has been a mixed bag so far.

Wm Morrison Supermarkets reported a rise in Christmas and New Year sales, despite the bad weather.

The grocer, which is Britain’s fourth largest, said like-for-like sales grew 1% in the six-week period over Christmas and New Year compared with the same period a year ago.

Next, which is Britain’s second largest fashion retailer, said sales for the five months to Christmas Eve – at shops open at least a year – were down 6.1%.

Mother and baby products retailer Mothercare, greeting card chain Clinton Cards, and McBride, Europe’s largest maker of retailer own-brand cleaning products, all said sales suffered last month.

Today, Marks and Spencer said like-for-like sales in the UK grew by 2.8% in the final three months of 2010 compared with a year earlier.

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