The paradox continues. Despite a worldwide tightening of belts, Britons continue to shop as if there’s no tomorrow – with some onlookers fearing they may be instinctively right.

A joint report published Monday by the British Retail Consortium and management consultancy KPMG registered a six per cent year-on-year gain in December, following on the heels of a 5.8% increase in November. Growth in total and like-for-like sales have remained stable since June 2001, the longest period of positive stability since publication of the first such survey in 1995.

Total retail sales grew by 8.1%, marginally down on November's 8.2%, but the three-month trend rates of growth for total sales remained at 8.3% and increased from 5.8% to 5.9% on a like-for-like basis.

Commented BRC director general Bill Moyes: “December's figures reflect the fact that despite the economic gloom and events of the last half of the year, the UK consumer was determined to have a good Christmas.”

As one pessimistic observer asked: “Why do the phrases ‘condemned man’ and ‘hearty breakfast’ come to mind?”

News source: Financial Times