Weird Christmas? Retail sales fell in December - as clothing sales were hit by warm weather

Emma Haslett
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Unusually warm weather caused clothing sales to fall (Source: Getty)

Either people finished their Christmas shopping early this year, or they had a decidedly miserly Christmas.

Official figures have shown retail sales actually fell by one per cent between November and December.

But the figures, by the Office for National Statistics, showed sales rose 2.6 per cent compared with the year before, while online sales rose 8.2 per cent.

Clothing sales were hit particularly hard, falling 6.3 per cent compared with last year.

Meanwhile, average store prices fell 3.2 per cent in December, compared with the year before, and 1.4 per cent compared with November.

"A sharp fall in retail sales volumes had always looked likely following the 1.3 per cent surge in November, which reflected consumers undertaking Christmas gift shopping earlier than usual due to Black Friday," said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

"Sales volumes were still 1.2 per cent higher in the fourth quarter than in the third, indicating strong underlying momentum. What’s more, the unusually mild weather — December was the warmest since records began in 1910 — almost certainly explains the 6.3 per cent month-to-month plunge in clothing sales, which contributed -0.8 percentage points to the overall monthly change."

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