There was an upward tick in retail from August 2011, however, in December 2012 the growth was lower than expected. The quantity of goods grew 0.3 percent from the same time last year, while overall amounts spent was estimated to have grown 0.7 percent.
Except for December 2010, when retail was severely affected by bad weather, December 2012 was the lowest growth since 1998, which was at -0.4 percent. Comparing the month with November 2012, both quantity bought and amount spent dropped by 0.1 percent.
Online sales were 1.2 percent higher compared with December 2011, but compared with November, the ONS says the proportion of web sales fell at a slower rate than in previous years – which is seasonally unusual. Retailers told the ONS that online shoppers helped with overall sales and made up a larger proportion of sales in December than expected.
According to data from Experian, December 2012 was the busiest Christmas ever for online retailers, with plenty of consumers going online on Boxing Day and Christmas to spend festive cash and vouchers. There was a 30 percent growth in visits since last year.
Year on year growth from non-store retailing and non-food stores was cancelled out by large drops in spending at food stores and petrol stations. Overall, the estimated weekly spend in all retail was £8.5 billion for the month, compared to £8.4 billion in December 2011.