December Retail Sales ‘Best Since 1987’; Should Hold Thru January, says CBI

04 January 2002

More evidence that Brit consumers are doing their bit for Queen and Economy.

According to the distributive trades survey released Thursday by the Confederation of British Industry, 65% of retailers reported year-on-year increases in sales volumes during the first two weeks of December, while only 17% said sales had declined. This is the best set of December results since 1987, and the increase/decrease differential of 48 percentage points compares with 29% in November.

The spend-trend is set to continue through January, although at a lesser level, the CBI predicts. Says Alistair Eperon, chairman of the CBI's distributive-trades panel: “Early indications show the robust start to the Christmas period continued throughout December.”

He continued: “It is vital that consumer spending remains strong when other parts of the economy are so weak ... If the retail sector can maintain this position it will provide the underlying strength of the economy as we go into the new year.”

All retail sectors enjoyed an increase in sales volumes compared with the same period last year. Vendors of durable household goods reported the strongest annual growth since June 1987, with robust increases also reported by hardware and china stores.

News source: Wall Street Journal