Retailers suffer worst December since 2010 - ONS

Worst Xmas in five years for the High Street

Retailers experienced the lowest sales growth since 2013 last year

Lisa Hooker, PwC's United Kingdom consumer markets leader, added: "Today's numbers from the ONS show the UK's retail sector had a respectable Christmas trading period - with sales just remaining in positive territory".

Black Friday promotions have become commonplace in Britain only in the last few years, making it hard for the ONS to adjust data so figures for November and December can be compared easily from year to year.

Sales fell by 1.5% in December, more sharply than the 0.6% drop forecast by economists partly due to the fact that Black Friday offers saw customers bring their shopping forward into November.

Black Friday, celebrated the day after Thanksgiving, sees retailers slash prices on high ticket items like televisions, computers and other tech equipment.

A dip in consumer confidence following the Brexit vote and strong Black Friday sales in November has been blamed on the December spending slump.

It has grown substantially in popularity in the United Kingdom in recent years, with nearly all retailers now running some sort of Black Friday sale. Unfortunately for British retail, the long term trend isn't great either.

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As a result, retail sales will contribute nearly nothing to economic growth in the last three months of 2017.

Today's figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that United Kingdom retail sales have witnessed the biggest fall since the 2016 Brexit referendum vote with the overall sales rising by 1.9 per cent in 2017.

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

Even though the data are seasonally adjusted, he noted that ONS process has not yet adjusted for the new pattern of spending since Black Friday took off in Britain in 2014, with the decline in non-store retailing non-food sales consistent with this.

Inflation has been outstripping increases in wages, denting the spending power of shoppers.

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