In-store sales fell while online sales saw growth.
Shoppers might have their Christmas purchases late in 2016 but they did buy, boosting retail sales for the month of December. The British Retail Consortium said that retail sales built gradually during the month. The whole of December the cash value of spending was 1.7% higher than a year earlier.
Sales growth was strongest online while in-store sales fell. The BRC said that the annual sales growth in December was stronger than the 2016 average but slightly lower than the fourth quarter average, which was boosted by an extremely strong month in October.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said the week before Christmas was “a bumper one and exceeded expectations. The BRC said the majority of December’s growth was delivered in the final week before Christmas, which proved to be even bigger than the Black Friday period”. This is a reverse from last year’s trend.
“December is the most important trading period of the year and with sales across 2016 growing more slowly than the previous year, it was all to play for in the final month,” said Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive. Despite the slow start to the Christmas trading period, the week itself was a bumper one and exceeded expectations.
“It delivered the majority of sales growth for the month, proving even bigger than the Black Friday period – which is the reverse of what we saw the year before”, she added.
“Christmas stars were home accessories, beauty products and toys which flew off the shelves, encouraged by promotions that in many cases ran throughout the month,” added KPMG’s UK head of retail.