December 19, 2012 12:46 pm

Shoppers unmoved by Christmas spirit

Christmas Shopping©EPA

Shoppers have not been warmed by the Christmas spirit, spending less than usual in the first half of December, according to a poll of retailers.

The December distributive trades survey by the CBI, a business lobby organisation, found fewer retailers than analysts had expected reporting sales growth compared with this time last year.

“This is particularly worrying news for retailers and it does not do much for overall growth hopes for the fourth quarter,” said Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight.

Chris Williamson, an economist at Markit, a data provider, said: “While these data by no means [signal] a disastrous Christmas for retailers, the renewed weakening of the trend in consumer spending is a sign of how tough the retail environment is at the moment.”

Of the 63 retailers polled, a balance of 18 per cent believed sales volumes were low for this time of year.

A balance of 19 per cent reported sales growth compared with last year, down from a balance of 33 per cent in November. Analysts had expected a balance of 25 per cent in December.

Of the thirteen sectors covered by the poll, only three – grocers, clothes shops and sellers of consumer durables – saw conditions improve over the past month.

Retailers selling recreational goods – sports shops, for example – fared particularly badly, with all of the respondents from this sector reporting a year-on-year drop in sales volumes.

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