Spending down on last year, but may pick up in the final weeks of December
Retail sales declined in November, down 0.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared with the year before, according to figures from the BRC. However, total sales increased by 2.4 per cent. The three-month trend is also disappointing, with growth from September to November in like-for-like terms at 0.8 per cent, down from 1.1 per cent like-for-like growth in the three months to October.

The consortium concluded from the figures, compiled in association with KPMG, that Christmas has started slowly, with consumers still cautious about big-ticket purchases and planning to spend more in the longer pre-Christmas week.

BRC director general Kevin Hawkins cautioned retailers that the Christmas spending period was still far from over. He said: 'Whilst November was a tough month, retailers have become used to the bulk of Christmas spending happening much later in December. Talk of panic sales is premature and retailers will now wait to see if the mood improves and they can catch up lost ground during December.'