LONDON Dec 4 British retail sales edged up in
November, though by less than analysts were expecting, as
shoppers hunted for cheap Christmas gifts, the British Retail
Consortium said on Tuesday.
The improvement follows a solid reading from November's
retail sales index from the Confederation of British Industry,
and a rise in consumer confidence on the GfK measure to its
highest in 18 months, after weak official data in October.
Like-for-like retail sales - a measure that strips out
changes in floorspace and is favoured by equity analysts - rose
by 0.4 percent in value on the year, after falling 0.1 percent
in October, the BRC said. Economists polled by Reuters had
expected a 0.9 percent rise.
Total retail sales - a measure used more by economists and
which is closer to that found in official statistics - rose 1.8
percent in value terms on the year, up from 1.1 percent growth
But with inflation running at 2.7 percent, this suggests
that retail sales volumes are still falling.
"Overall, the emphasis continued to be on value with
consumers looking at lower-priced gifts," said BRC Director
"The same caution hit online sales, which delivered their
third worst performance of the year. With consumers conscious
that there will be a full shopping weekend immediately before
Christmas, retailers are holding their nerve and counting on a
last-minute rush," he added.
November's figures were also flattered by the timing of
school half-term holidays and weak retail sales a year earlier
the BRC, added.
Growth in retail sales volumes has been weak since the 2008
-09 financial crisis, in large part because high inflation and
low wage increases have eroded Britons' disposable income.
The BoE is pinning part of its forecast for stronger growth
in 2013 on a pick-up in consumer spending as inflation falls
closer to its 2 percent target.
(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)