The volume of retail sales in the UK dropped in December during the important Christmas trading period, but fashion sales increased slightly.
Retail sales volumes are estimated to have dropped 1 percent last month following a drop of 0.5 percent in November, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
On a brighter note, clothing sales increased 1 percent in December amid higher discounting.
But overall sales volumes remained 1.7 percent below pre-Covid levels from February 2019.
The proportion of online sales also continued to drop to 25.4 percent in December from 25.9 percent in November, with “anecdotal evidence that Royal Mail strikes led to consumers shopping in stores more”.
Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), commented on the figures: “Volumes fell for the ninth consecutive month as the cost of living squeeze caused consumers to rein in December spending.”
She noted that the high cost of household bills, in particular for energy, and rising food inflation made for “a difficult Christmas backdrop with falling consumer confidence”.
But she added: “Nonetheless, increased discounting helped boost gift giving, with stronger sales growth for clothing and furniture.”