Retail figures for goods bought during the last month of 2012 grew by 0.3 per cent over the same period in 2011, but fell over the month before.
Statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that despite a growth in year-on-year figures for December, clothing and food sales did not fare well.
Excluding December 2010 when sales were affected by snow, the 0.3 per cent rise in goods purchased is the lowest annual growth rate for a December period since 1998.
ONS says that compared with December 2011, the amount spent (all retailing seasonally adjusted sales values) is estimated to have growth by 0.7 per cent.
The proportion of sales made online fell at a slower rate between November and December than seen in previous years, and was 1.2 per cent higher when laid over December 2011.
Florian Richter, UK director of mobile point-of-sale business SumUp, says that the ‘lacklustre’ retail figures will lead many to conclude that the British high streets are in ‘terminal decline’.
However, Richter adds, ‘The facts and figures do not necessarily “spell doom” for the nation’s small, independent retailers.
‘Independents that develop distinctive in-store experiences and product ranges with personality will still draw consumers and create opportunities for themselves.’
More on retail performance:
- Comet, La Senza and JJB Sports amongst surge of 2012 administrations
- UK retailers closing 20 stores a day
- Rail station retail sales outperform high street
The estimated weekly spend across all retailing was £8.5 billion in December 2012 compared with £8.4 billion in December 2011.
Alan Gabbay, founder of shopping inspiration smartphone application Udozi, says that his business saw a 17.8 per cent rise in online sales during December, but has been hit by the loss of high street brands such as Comet and Jessop.
‘With over a billion smartphone users globally, mobile is playing an increasingly important role in driving people into stores,’ Gabbay says.
‘[Retailers] must embrace digital channels with an integrated approach, taking advantage of exciting channels like mobile while still taking into account the value of the high street – only then will they continue to thrive.’