Retail sales down in December

Retail sales in the UK were down 3.7% in December.

Footfall on the high street dramatically fell as people avoided shopping centres amid the Omicron variant around Christmas.

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Sales at department stores, household goods stores and clothing retailers were hit. The ONS said: “Clothing stores and department stores reported a fall of 8.0% and 6.3% over the month and were 7.2% and 10.6% below levels in February 2020.”

“The volume of household goods stores sales fell by 3.2% in December and were 1.4% below their levels in February 2020.”

Food store sales were down by 1% and petrol and diesel sales fell by 4.7%.

Oliver Vernon-Harcourt, head of retail at Deloitte, commented: Continued rising inflation will put pressure on both consumer spending and confidence over the coming months. Rising household costs will also prompt some consumers to tighten purse strings, at a time when 72% of UK consumers are already concerned that prices for everyday purchases will go up.

Despite the adaptability shown by the industry throughout the pandemic, retailers will have to navigate not only inflation headwinds, but also manage continued supply chain disruptions and staff shortages.”

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