The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium Retail Sales Monitor show that UK retail sales grew by just 0.3% like-for-like in the five weeks of December 2012, confirming predictions of restrained consumer Christmas spending. Total retail sales growth for the month was +1.5%, significantly lower than Christmas 2011, when the uplift was a buoyant 4.1%.
After a couple of months of slower growth, online retail sales returned to a stronger double-digit trend in December, with an uplift of almost 18%. With smartphones and tablets now providing easier access and the roll out of click and collect systems offering more flexibility in fulfilment, shoppers clearly found the convenience of online present shopping more compelling than ever.
Three month trend slows
Twelve week data for both food and non-food show retail growth slowing across the board in the final quarter of 2012. While non-food managed just +0.1% like-for-like, food was little stronger on +0.3%. Following a modest pick up in the course of the third quarter, this drop-off ended the year on a downbeat note for retail markets.
Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive IGD commented:
"The focus on eating and drinking over the festive period helped retain the week leading up to Christmas as the biggest of the year, in terms of food and grocery sales. But taken as a whole, December's performance was relatively flat. Yet again shoppers left it even later than the previous year to do their Christmas shopping, with a strong final two weeks off-setting a slow start to the month. The challenging conditions look set to continue into this year. Our ShopperVista research shows over half of shoppers (51%) are aiming to save money on their grocery shopping over the next six months. This figure rises to 67% of families with teenagers."