December slump

Retailers suffer slowest sales since 2021 lockdown

Christmas shoppers in Multrees Walk
Fewer shoppers hit the streets in December (pic: Terry Murden)

Sales volumes last month slumped by 3.2%, the worst performance January 2021 when lockdown restrictions were in place.

The shaper than expected fall follows a 1.4% rise in November, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which believes there was a Black Friday blip.

However, cost of living pressures continued to swing consumer sentiment, with many shoppers saying they would spend less at Christmas.

Economists were expecting the December numbers to come in at -0.5% This performance translated to a YoY increase of drop of 1.2.

Heather Bovill, deputy director for surveys and economic indicators at the ONS, said: “Food stores performed very poorly, with their steepest fall since May 2021 as early Christmas shopping led to slow December sales.

“Department stores, clothing shops and household goods retailers reported sluggish sales too as consumers spent less on Christmas gifts, but had also purchased earlier during Black Friday promotions, to help spread the cost.

“The longer-term picture remains subdued, with quarterly sales dipping, while annual sales volumes fell for the second consecutive year, to their lowest level in five years.”

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