British retail sales fell in December at its fastest pace in almost five years, as consumers bought less of everything – from household goods to clothing and food. The volume of goods sold in physical stores and online, fell by 1.9% compared to November, according to the data of the National Statistical Service. This is the biggest drop since April 2012 and much higher than expected by economists 0.1%. The sales without automobiles fuels fell by 2%.
The decline can be attributed to several reasons, including rising prices and a reduction in purchases by consumers, having benefited from reductions around Black Friday in the previous month, says the National Statistical Office. The fourth quarter as a whole reported sales growth of 1.2%, which means that the sector contributed 0.1 percentage point to gross domestic product.
The consumers avoided the hits of the Brexit vote so far, but now face pressure because of rapidly accelerating inflation. The prices of retail goods sold in December and measured by the deflator, rose by 0.9% on an annual basis, which is the biggest growth for three years. Without fuel, they rose by 0.1%, which is the first increase since 2014.
The sales of household goods fell by 7.3% in December, which is their biggest drop since January 2010. The sales of clothes and shoes dropped by 3.7%, which is the biggest fall of year, while the sales in shopping centers also decreased by 1.2%. The food accounted for 0.5% weaker sales and fuel sales decreased by 1.1%.
Total retail sales increased by 4.3% compared to the same period of the previous year, said the National Statistical Service in UK.