Credit cards at the ready: UK retail sales jump in January

Emma Haslett
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Consumers rushed to high streets in January (Source: Getty)

The UK's consumers put themselves into a buying frenzy in January, if official retail figures are anything to go by, with sales increasing 5.2 per cent on last year.

And it seems Christmas was but a blip on consumers' radars: the quantity bought in the retail industry increased 2.3 per cent compared with December - thanks, presumably, to January sales.

But average store prices including petrol fell 2.6 per cent on the year before, the 19th consecutive month of falls.

Meanwhile, the amount spent in the sector increase 2.4 per cent in January, compared with the year before - and 2.7 per cent compared with December - while the value of online sales jumped 10.4 per cent compared with the year before.

“The year has so far provided near-perfect conditions for retailers, who find themselves in a real sweet spot," pointed out Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at Deloitte.

"Low inflation, cheaper fuel prices, rising consumer confidence and high employment would point the way towards near-perfect trading conditions, despite some uncertainties on the horizon. As the year goes on, it will be interesting to see which retailers successfully capitalise on these conditions.”

"These figures somewhat confirm that December’s [lower] data was a bit of a one off blip, impacted by the unusually mild weather," added Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre.

"These volumes were led by sales at non-food retailers, probably boosted by January sales and lower prices. What should also be encouraging for markets is that this sharp recovery in retail spending came on the back of extreme volatility in the global financial markets. It seems the UK consumer remains in a buoyant mood."

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