U.K. retail sales rose in December on a surge of customers during the weekend before Christmas day increased online shopping, according to a survey by BDO LLP.
Like-for-like sales climbed by 1.9 percent in the five weeks through Dec. 29, BDO said in its High Street Sales Tracker report released today. The data includes companies with annual revenue between 5 million pounds ($7.8 million) and 500 million pounds.
Online purchases gained the most of any type, rising 30.9 percent, as flexible delivery options attracted buyers, while sales at fashion stores were little changed. Footfall overall rose 22 percent on the weekend before Christmas from a year ago.
“This year, there has been a clear focus on protecting margins,” Don Williams, BDO’s national head of retail and wholesale, said in the statement. “By building up to Christmas early in a planned and measured way, there has been less knee- jerk discounting. At the same time, consumers are continuing to feel the pinch of hard economic conditions and are being much more careful about when and where they spend their money.”
Retailers are relying on Christmas sales to help rescue a year when high unemployment and the European debt crisis have blighted spending. Many store owners offered discounts online on Christmas Day, when Britons made a record 107 million visits to retail websites, up 86 percent from 2011, according to credit- reporting service Experian Plc.
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