RETAIL sales put in their worst performance for eight months in December as snowy weather and money worries caused shoppers to cut back on buying Christmas presents, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium.
Retailers were already braced for a tough festive trading period as consumers reined in spending on non-essential items, but the Arctic weather made a difficult situation worse by keeping shoppers at home.
Like-for-like sales dropped 0.3% year-on-year – their first decline since April.
Sales of food and drink continued to grow as consumers found the money for a Christmas feast, but sales of most non-food categories dropped. Overall sales rose just 1.5% – the lowest rate of growth since April.
Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said “a combination of weather and worries” led shoppers to cut back on presents.
He added: “With mounting concerns about the impact of spending cuts and the wider economy, sales growth has been weak since last summer.
“December was always likely to be similarly unspectacular, but the snow and ice dealt an extra blow to business for many retailers.”