ONS reveals 1.5 per cent drop in December 2017 retail sales

The UK retail scene has witnessed a sharper fall in sales than expected as the ONS reveals a dip of 1.5 per cent in December 2017.

The Office for National Statistics has suggested that many shoppers had shifted spending to November from December to take advantage of Black Friday offers.

For 2017 as a whole, the quantity bought increased by 1.9 per cent, which was the lowest annual growth since 2013. The ONS said that the long-term picture was one of slowing growth, with higher prices squeezing people’s spending.

Black Friday has been billed as ‘hugely disruptive’ by some, bringing forward consumer spending that would otherwise have taken place in December. The ONS has said that the trend towards online spending was continuing and that almost one in five pounds was now spent online.

Sam North, portfolio director at InternetRetailing Expo, the UK omni-channel retailing event, said: “The ONS statistics have shown that, as expected, consumers’ move to spending online is continuing at pace.

“What’s most interesting is that growth in sales from online only retailers slowed to 3.7 per cent over the Christmas period, less than the 2015 and 2016 figures.

“Conversely, retailers with both a physical and online presence contributed greatly to the online spending growth. Clearly, consumers are valuing retailers that offer more paths to purchase.”

What this all means for the UK retail scene is that the ability to deliver a hybrid shopping experience to consumers will most likely be the route to sustained success.

“In the years ahead, I think we will see retailers who can offer seamless online and physical shopping experiences, and tie the two together conveniently, be the most successful,” concluded North.