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UK retail sales fall more than expected in December, says ONS

Staff Writer |
UK retail sales in December fell the most since April 2012 as an increase in average store prices deterred shoppers, official data revealed.

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The Office for National Statistics said retail sales, including auto fuel, declined 1.9% in December compared to a month ago, far worse than the 0.1% decrease expected by analysts and following a 0.2% month-on-month rise in November.

Compared to the same month a year ago, retail sales rose 4.3% in December, missing forecasts for a 7.5% increase and following a 6.6% year-on-year gain in November.

Average store prices increased by 0.9% on the year, as higher import costs - due to a weaker post-Brexit pound - were passed onto consumers. For all retail items excluding fuel, prices increased by 0.1%, the first rise since June 2014.

Online sales, which accounted for about 15% of all retail spending, jumped 21.3% year-on-year but dipped 5.3% month-on-month.

Despite a decline between November and December - removing the effects of Christmas spending - fourth quarter retail sales growth was 5.6% on the same period last year and 1.2% compared to the previous quarter.

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