UK retail sales slowed in December as weak consumer confidence continued to hold back spending in the festive period, according to the latest BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor.
Total UK retail sales increased 3.6%, while food sales grew 8.1% and non-food sales declined 0.1% as compared with 2022.
In December, total UK retail sales increased 1.7%, against a rise of 6.9% in December 2022. This was below the three-month average growth of 2.3% and below the 12-month average of 3.6%.
Food sales grew 6.8% on a total basis over the three months to December, below the 12-month average growth of 8.1%.
Non-food sales decreased 1.5% on a total basis in the three months to December and remain in decline year on year.
In-store non-food sales have fallen 1.3% on a total basis since December 2022, while online non-food sales slipped 0.8% against a 3.0% decline in the same period last year.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “The festive period failed to make amends for a challenging year of sluggish retail sales growth, as weak consumer confidence continued to hold back spending.
“The post-Christmas sales were unsuccessful in enticing spend in areas such as furniture and homeware, with households remaining cautious about making larger purchases.
“Sales saw a slight uptick in the week leading up to Christmas as consumers scrambled to purchase last-minute gifts, particularly online, due to the wet weather. In gifting, beauty products were the standout performer, and toys and gaming also sold well.”
She continued: “2024 looks to be another challenging year for retailers and their customers, and spending will continue to be constrained by high living costs. Retailers will also have to juggle various cost pressures, including the rise in business rates this April.
“This will be compounded by other emerging issues, such as the disruption to shipments from the Far East via the Red Sea. Political parties must consider this backdrop when they set out their plans for retail in manifestos so they can help support the industry to grow, invest, and serve customers.”