British retail sales suffer record slump due to snow: data

21st January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Retail sales in Britain tumbled in December by a record amount, official data showed Friday, as shoppers avoided the high street and companies struggled to deliver online sales due to heavy snow.

Sales dived 0.8 percent in December from November, despite the run-up to the crucial Christmas trading period.

Retail sales were also flat in December compared with 12 months earlier, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. That was the weakest 12-month performance since January 2010.

Food stores witnessed a record 3.4-percent plunge in sales last month compared with December 2009, the ONS added.

"One factor to blame was that December 2010 was the coldest December in 100 years," said ONS statistician Kate Davies.

"Another factor was a 5.0-percent rise (year-on-year) in prices of goods sold at food stores."

Market expectations had been for a monthly drop of 0.4 percent and an annual increase of 0.8 percent, according to economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

"UK retail sales fell 0.8 percent month-on-month ... but we expect that this was almost entirely down to the bad December weather," said ING economist Rob Carnell.

Last month was the Britain's coldest December since records began.

© 2011 AFP

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