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Worst December sales since records began

Published: 13 January 2009
Christmas sales have been the worst in 14 years, according to the British Retail Consortium.
Worst December sales since records began
The BRC began surveying in 1995 and apart from food and footwear, figures they published today showed falls across the board.

In December UK retail values fell by 3.3% on a like-for-like (lfl) basis and 1.4% on a total basis from December 2007.

However, non-food non-store sales in December were 30.0% higher than a year ago.

This was stronger than the 9.5% gain in November, as people were more confident about Christmas shopping online and several stores had later last order dates than last Christmas.

December proved a very difficult time for traders as bargain hunting consumers stayed away from the sales until very near Christmas as they hoped for more bargains.

This led to slow trading in the first weeks of December and a rush towards the end of it, but not a big enough one to make up for the initial slow trading.

Home accessories faired much worse than in previous months, showing year-on-year falls for the eight month in a row.

While Christmas lines did well for some, in general consumers were not buying.

Furniture and floor coverings showed little change over the last eight months, despite large scale discounting.

And, DIY/gardening saw the usual quiet month, but sales were even lower than normal as consumer confidence dipped and the weak housing market.

BRC director general, Stephen Robertson, said: "These are truly awful numbers.

"Some retailers were more successful than others and the second half of December was better than the first."

Mr Robertson also called on the Government to rethink its plans to push retailers business rates bills up by £1.6b over the next two years.

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