BRC: Snow puts the big freeze on December sales

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Scottish retail sales fare better than rest of UK.

Cold weather put a winter chill on December sales as like-for-like retail sales dropped 0.3 percent on those for the same month in the previous year when they had risen 1.4 percent.

Total retail sales were up 1.5 percent against an increase in December 2009.

These latest figures from the British Retail Consortium show that the coldest December on record since 1910 had a significant impact on non-food sales. The snow disrupted sales patterns and for some resulted in lost trade. Non-food in particular had a tough time, with larger purchases hit by concerns about jobs and incomes.

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Non-food internet, mail-order and phone sales grew marginally in December after picking up in November. Sales were 18 percent higher than a year ago, against a 26.5 percent rise in December 2009.

The figures for Scotland were less harsh, showing a 0.7 percent increase in like-for-like sales in December, up from 1.4 percent in the previous year. Total retail sales were also rose 3.4 percent on the previous year, which in turn showed a rise of 4.3 percent.

Fiona Moriarty, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "Overall, it was a steady Christmas of unspectacular growth but there was a stark division between retail sectors. All December’s sales growth came from food while extreme weather and economic uncertainties dealt a major blow to sales of non-food goods.

"The heavy snow hampered people’s ability to get out and shop in the first half of the month. Concern about further disruption encouraged people to use breaks in the weather for stocking up on essentials and Christmas food and drink, but gifts were less of a priority.

"There was a big rush in the last week before Christmas and lots of bargain hunting once the clearance sales started. But it wasn’t enough to outweigh the damage to non-food sales from the combination of bad weather and fears about job cuts and falling incomes."

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