UK retail sales values were up ever so slightly by 0.3 per cent year-on-year fro December.
It's a severe drop from the 2.2 per cent gain made in 2011, but better than some had feared. The BRC reports that total sales were up 1.5 per cent. This is down from the total sales gain of 4.1 per cent last year.
Online sales soared 17.8 per cent although this was also down compared to December 2001 when the increase was 18.5 per cent.
"Against the relentlessly tough economic backdrop and low expectations, these results are not a cause for celebration, but not a disaster either,” BRC director general Helen Dickinson stated.
Total growth for December hasn't beaten inflation and is only on a par with December 2010, when severe weather put sales volumes on ice for much of the month. Online was the stand-out performer, showing its highest rate of growth this year. Shoppers are increasingly taking advantage of the convenience that online shopping offers at every stage of the customer journey, from comparing prices to reserving and collecting in-store.
"Retailers knew they were facing a challenging Christmas. Some did better than others but they were generally well prepared for shoppers' limited spending power. After a sluggish start, the final few days leading up to Christmas saw a last-minute sales boost, as many made the most of a full shopping weekend which the calendar didn't offer in the previous year. Footfall was disappointingly low but it seems that when people did make shopping trips they bought a lot in one go.
"This rather underwhelming result brings a year of minimal sales growth to a close. Retailers will be hoping that a continuing boost from post-Christmas sales events strengthens January's figures but, unfortunately, there are few signs that their sense of ‘running fast to stand still' is likely to ease off any time soon."