UK retail sales boosted by Christmas rush, says BRC

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Media captionNatalie Berg from Planet Retail says the BRC figures were "not that impressive"

A "dazzling" pre-Christmas rush helped to boost UK retail sales in December, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

On a like-for-like basis, which strips out the impact of new store openings, sales grew by 2.2% in the month against a year ago. Total sales rose by 4.1%.

But the BRC said the figures were boosted by the comparison with weak sales in 2010, which were hit by snow.

Heavy discounting also helped to drive sales, it said.

Food sales picked up strongly, but big-ticket items such as furniture fell.

"A better-than-hoped for December closed a relentlessly tough year for retailers, but these figures hinged on a dazzling last pre-Christmas week and were boosted by some major one-off factors," said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.

"We're not witnessing any fundamental change in customers' circumstances."

He said a "solid" December had not "rescued a pretty miserable year" for UK retailers.

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