UK retail sales drop in December

London (AFP) –


British retail sales fell in December as consumers held onto their cash after snapping up discounted Christmas gifts the previous month, official data showed Friday.

Total sales slid 0.9 percent compared to November, the Office for National Statistics calculated, with all sectors except food and fuel in decline.

That was slightly worse than analysts' consensus forecast for a 0.8-percent drop.

Sales had rebounded 1.3 percent in November as shoppers brought forward Christmas spending to bag Black Friday bargains.

"Disappointment for retailers as sales volumes fell back markedly in December after November's spike," noted EY analyst Howard Archer.

"This pointed to Black Friday-related promotions primarily bringing retail purchases forward to November from December rather than lifting sales overall."

Recent data from the GfK institute showed that consumer confidence in Britain fell to its lowest level in five years in December, as the purchasing power of wages was eroded by Brexit-fuelled inflation.

"Consumers were clearly relatively cautious in their spending over the Christmas period, which ties in with the GfK consumer confidence index falling back in December to its lowest level since mid-2013 amid heightened concerns over the economy and Brexit," Archer noted.