Shops suffer as Christmas sales fall, says ONS

shoppers Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Shops saw a drop in sales over Christmas, but bargain hunters benefited from lower prices

The volume of goods sold in UK shops in December fell by 1% from the previous month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The milder than usual weather hit sales of clothing and footwear, which fell by 6.2% from November - the largest monthly fall on record.

However, over 2015 as a whole, volumes rose by 2.6%.

The figures suggest it was a good Christmas for bargain hunters, but not so good for the retailers.

Prices fell by 3.2% over the year, as competition forced many shops to discount goods.

"The fall in retail sales in December was disappointing, and although annual growth in sales at 2.6% is still reasonably healthy, it is still a marked slowdown compared with previous months," said David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce.

Economists had expected the ONS measure to fall in December, following a jump in sales in November.

"Nonetheless it hit the deck harder than expectations," said David Tinley of Swiss bank UBS.

The total amount spent in the retail industry was down 1.4% in December compared with the previous month, but up 1% compared with December 2014.

The value of online sales fell 5.2% compared with November, but were up 8.2% from a year earlier.

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