December 2008 saw UK retail sales values falling 3.3% on a like-for-like basis and 1.4% on a total basis, says the British Retail Consortium (BRC)
, and by both measures this was the worst December since the survey began 14 years ago.
For online and multichannel retailers, the BRC statistics are hugely encouraging. In November 2008, the BRC recorded an increase in non-food non-store sales of only 16.6% and there were concerns that December would see only a similar rise. The news that December's non-food non-store sales were up 30% on a year ago is a definite boost.
The BRC remains determinedly gloomy, though. "While this is a fast-growing sector, it still represents too small a part of total spending to compensate the poor performance of retailing overall," says Sharon Hardiman, BRC's head of non-store retailing. "The sharp contrast between December's strong non-store sales growth and the previous month indicates customers are increasingly confident with leaving internet shopping until nearer Christmas."