High sales growth in independent shops fuelled the fastest annual retail sales growth in over nine years in December, after big chains reported a mixed Christmas.
The amount spent in independent shops grew by 8.1% in December compared with the same month in 2012, while sales in large stores grew by just 2.6%, according to the Office for National Statistics
That boosted year-on-year growth in sales volumes to 5.3%, its fastest since October 2004, and pushed spending up 6.1% annually. Maybe Small Business Saturday wasn’t just a marketing mouthful.
Spending was also 2.6% higher in December than November, as we all inevitably left our Christmas shopping until the last minute. Economists had expected a monthly rise of just 0.4%.
The figures contrasted with the British Retail Consortium’s gloomier data earlier this month, which found shoppers spent only 1.8% more in December than the previous year. The BRC’s survey covered larger stores, so more proof that indies are sticking it to the man.
Online sales also boomed, up by 11.8% year-on-year, and 1.8% higher than November. The ONS even jumped on the internet bandwagon, seasonally adjusting internet sales for the first time.
The economy really does seem to be getting its groove back. Retailers who had a rubbish Christmas, such as Debenhams and M&S, might have to start paying attention to the minnows of the high street as well as the big fish if they’re not going to miss the party.