LONDON Dec 19 British retail sales grew less
than expected in the first part of December, a survey by the
Confederation of British Industry showed on Wednesday,
suggesting a weak start to the key Christmas trading period.
The sales balance in the CBI distributive trades survey
fell to +19 from a five-month high of +33 hit in November.
Analysts had forecast a smaller decline to +25.
The expected sales balance for January eased to +10 from +25
"This month's survey hasn't quite provided the Christmas
cheer that retailers anticipated, with sales growth falling
short of expectations," said Anna Leach, CBI head of economic
"Clearly weak spending power and uncertainty over the
economic outlook are likely to remain key risks to the retail
sector in 2013."
Grocers and furniture retailers fared well, while retailers
of household durable goods were among the worst-performing.
British retail sales volumes grew just 0.2 percent in the
three months to October, according to official data released
last month. Persistent inflation - which hit a five-month high
that month and remained there in November - has depressed
consumer demand, as wages have not kept up in a weak economy.
A number of well-known British high-street stores have
ceased trading this year, including JJB Sports, Clinton Cards
and Game Group. The latest failure, 235-store electrical chain
Comet, shut its doors on Tuesday.
The Office for National Statistics will release its November
retail sales data at 0930 GMT on Thursday.