Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Retail sales strong, economy flat
Posted by David Smith at 08:45 AM
Category: Thoughts and responses

The British Retail Consortium, for all its warnings, reported that retail sales in December were 4.1% up on a year earlier, and 2.2% higher on a like-for-like basis. Though the comparisons are helped by December 2010's snows and while they do not imply volume increases - the figures are for sales values - they are significantly better than expected.

Food sales growth picked up strongly and non-food also improved, but with sales often promotion-led. Clothing and footwear showed good gains on last December's weak sales. Homewares improved but big-ticket items and furniture sales remained down on a year ago, hit by consumer caution.

Non-food non-store (internet, mail-order and phone) sales growth picked up sharply from November's low. Sales were 18.5% up on a year ago, double November's gain but similar to the 18.0% in December 2010.

The BRC does not expect it to last. Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "A better than hoped-for December closed a relentlessly tough year for retailers, but these figures hinged on a dazzling last pre-Christmas week and were boosted by some major one-off factors. We're not witnessing any fundamental change in customers' circumstances." More here.

The British Chambers of Commerce quarterly survey is slightly harder to read, since the organisation has used it as a lobbying exercise. It points to flat growth rather than a deterioration. More here.