UK retail sales slid 0.8 per cent in December as food, petrol and clothing sales remained under pressure and the adverse effects of the snow dented high street spending.
Data released by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Friday showed the sales volume remained unchanged on an annual basis.
Sales volume in the three months from October to December increased by 0.2 per cent compared to the previous three months – July to September, the data released by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed on Friday.
December’s UK official retail sales figures provide further confirmation of the adverse effects of the snow on high street spending last month, Capital Economics' Senior UK Economist Vicky Redwood said in a note.
While food store sales decreased by 0.9 percent predominantly non-food stores fell by 0.6 per cent. The drop in household goods sales suggested that the snow stopped consumers bringing forward spending on big-ticket items before the VAT rise, Redwood noted.
The total sales volume in the three months to December was 0.4 per cent higher than the same period a year ago, ONS said.
Redwood says the overall picture is not so gloomy as evidence suggests that consumers flocked to the post-Christmas sales, meaning that spending should rebound in January.
But at the very least, it looks like the retail sector will have contributed to the likely slowdown in overall GDP growth in the final quarter of last year.
A separate report showed a fall in the Bank of England’s Trends in Lending measure of mortgage approvals from 45,000 to 40,000 in December, which the analyst says is evidence of the troubles in the housing market.