17/12/2004

Retail sales recover from late summer blues

The latest results for the Retail Sales Index indicate that underlying retail sales growth has partially recovered from a marked slowdown in late summer.

The seasonal impact in November from Christmas shopping is in line with that of recent years with the unadjusted sales value picking up to reach £21.1bn.

The volume of retail sales in the three months September to November was 1.3% higher than in the previous three months.

This follows growth of 1.2% in the three months to October. Three-monthly growth for non-food stores was 1.5%, compared to 1.0% for food stores. Among non-food stores, growth was strongest for clothing and footwear, at 2.6%

Annual comparisons show that sales volumes in the three months to November were 6.4% higher than in the same period in 2003.

Sectors showing strongest growth over the year were clothing stores, other non-food stores and non-store retailing.

Retail sales for predominantly food stores were 4.4% higher than the same period a year earlier - the highest such increase since December 2002.

Retail sales volume in November was 0.6% higher than in October and 6.1% higher than in November 2003. This follows a 0.5% decrease last month and a 1.1% increase in September.

There was an increase on the month for all sectors apart from other non-food stores where a number of large toy shops and sports shops reported lower sales than in November last year.

The unadjusted value of retail sales in November totalled £21.1bn and average weekly sales were £5.3bn, 4.2% higher than a year ago.

Annual growth in sales value for food stores was higher than that for non-food stores for the first time since December 2003, at 4.4% compared to 4.0%.

Annual growth in the value of sales for the non-store sector was 4.6% in November. This mainly reflects strong growth for internet retailers, although this was partially offset by a fall in sales over the year for catalogue-based retailers.

(SP)

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