High street sales in Britain plummeted in December when consumers curbed their spending during the key Christmas shopping period, increasing the darkness that plagues messy retailers across the country and increasing the likelihood of a rate cut. later this month.
According to the Office for National Statistics, retail sales did not increase for a fifth consecutive month in December as household spending in street and online stores plunged 0.6% from the previous month.
Sounding the alarm for the health of the economy at the end of last year, as uncertainty about Brexit weighed on growth, the ONS said that sales have not increased on a monthly basis since July, the longest period since start of records in 1996.
Consumer spending in the last three months of the year decreased by 1% compared to the previous quarter, while sales growth of the year fell to 0.9%, below all estimates made by city economists in a Reuters survey.
The latest snapshot comes after retailers said 2019 was the worst year for sales in a quarter century and follows several terrible commercial updates from major chain stores, including John Lewis and Marks & Spencer.
Ryan Broomfield, partner and retail specialist at the accounting firm RSM, said: “Shoppers will have noticed the impact of job vacancies in retail stores and urban centers, particularly in areas that have lost department stores. and with further closings scheduled for 2020. “
Analysts said that political uncertainty around last month’s general election, combined with bad weather, kept consumers away from stores, while the delay on Black Friday – the U.S.-inspired sales event – had brought some sales in November.
According to the ONS, all sectors of the retail trade, with the exception of shops selling household items and petrol stations, have experienced a drop in sales.
Food spending declined 1.3% in December, the largest monthly drop in four years.
The quantity of goods purchased in department stores continued to decline, with a monthly drop of 1.8%, reflecting the difficulties faced by well-known chains such as Debenhams and Beales.
Analysts said it remained to be seen whether Boris Johnson’s unexpectedly decisive election victory would help boost consumer confidence, though they warned that December’s trade data was for the health of the economy.
Ed Monk, associate director of Personal Investing at Fidelity International, said: “2019 has been miserable for retailers, complemented by a grim commercial Christmas season. Today’s data will raise further questions about the solidity of the British economy in the coming year. “