The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has released new figures that show retail sales in the UK were down in December.
The main reasons for this were the impact of the snow in keeping shoppers away from retailers and concerns about job security. Sales were down 0.3 per cent compared with December 2009.
Sales of food and drink went up by 2.6 per cent over the period from October to December compared to the same period in 2009 but like-for-like sales of non-food items went down by 0.8 per cent.
Online shopping bucked the trend, perhaps aided by the winter weather as consumers opted to shop from home rather than attempting to travel to retail centres. Internet and mail order sales went up by 18 per cent. However, the growth rate for this type of transaction fell from a 27 per cent increase in December 2009.
Trading figures from some of the best known UK retailers have been mixed so far. HMV and Mothercare saw sales fall sharply in the UK leading HMV to announce that they will shut 60 stores in 2011.
However, Waitrose and Morrisons both saw sales rise, backing up the BRC's sales data on food and drink.
Marks and Spencer (M&S) reported a 2.8 per cent rise in like-for-like sales in the final quarter of 2010. Total sales rose by four per cent, whilst online sales through M&S Direct went up by 25 per cent.
However, the retailer warned of tough times ahead due to lower consumer disposable income due to the spending cuts and rise in VAT.