Monday, 24 September, 2018

December 2017 sees retail sales slump

Black Friday in London Rob Stothard Getty
Nellie Chapman | 20 January, 2018, 04:43

British consumers sharply reined in spending over the Christmas period, as Black Friday deals encouraged them to purchase presents earlier, rounding off the weakest year for retail sales since 2013.

United Kingdom retail sales slid 1.5% in December from the previous month after consumers had brought forward their Christmas shopping, official data showed today.

"The longer-term picture is one of slowing growth, with increased prices squeezing people's spending", ONS statistician Rhian Murphy said.

Looking at the fourth quarter as a whole, which smooths out monthly volatility in the data, sales growth slowed to 0.4 per cent, compared with 0.8 per cent in the third quarter.

"Over the year the proportion of internet spending is continuing to rise, with nearly one in every five pounds spent online by the end of 2017".

In the year to December, sales excluding fuel edged up 1.3 per cent, far lower than the three per cent analysts had expected.

The Office for National Statistics said sales fell by 1.5% compared with the previous month.

The data may look pretty very bad on the surface, it is negatively impacted by the fact that November was an unusually strong month, thanks to the growth of the previously USA-only shopping day known as Black Friday.

But Ian Gilmartin, head of retail & wholesale at Barclays Corporate Banking, said: "Although it might look like a negative result for the retail sector at first glance, December's retail data needs to be considered more carefully".

United Kingdom retail sales dive 1.5% in December as consumers slow spending following Black Friday bonanza. "Accordingly, we still think that GDP growth likely slowed to 0.3% in Q4, from 0.4% in Q3".

Monthly figures show a reasonably good picture of the United Kingdom retail sector is in a given moment, but longer term figures are needed to analyse industry trends.

The inflation rate dipped to 3 percent in December, down from November's rate of 3.1 percent, according to official data. Wage growth seems to be on an upward trend, while inflation may well have peaked.