December 2017 sees retail sales slump

The Office for National Statistics points to increased prices as the reason for the decrease in customer spending

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that December 2017 had the weakest retail sales in over four years.

The quantity of items bought in December decreased by 1.5% when compared with the stronger sales in November 2017.

Although retail sales increased by 1.3% in December compared with the previous year, this was down from the 1.5% growth rate shown in November.

For the whole of 2017 the quantity bought in retail sales increased by only 1.9%, making it the lowest annual growth since 2013.

The ONS said shopping for Christmas has “shifted in recent years” with consumers starting their purchasing earlier during Black Friday promotions.

However, internet sales continued to increase when compared with previous years, with physical stores dominating online sales growth in December.

Rhian Murphy, ONS Senior Statistician said: “Retail sales continued to grow in the last three months of the year partly due to Black Friday deals boosting spending.

“Consumers continue to move Christmas purchases earlier, with higher spending in November and lower spending in December than seen in previous years. However, the longer-term picture is one of slowing growth, with increased prices squeezing people’s spending.

“Over the year the proportion of internet spending is continuing to rise, with almost one in every five pounds spent online by the end of 2017.”

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